Readers choose Harry Potter as favorite controversial title


Larra Clark

ALA Media Relations Manager

For Immediate Release

October 2, 2006

Readers choose Harry Potter as favorite controversial title

(CHICAGO) More than 5,000 readers cast their votes for their favorite challenged books as part of celebrations of the 25th anniversary of Banned Books Week. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling led all voting with 1,490 votes.

Online voting was hosted by the American Library Association (ALA), one of the sponsors of Banned Books Week (September 23-30). The annual event celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of a wide range of materials in schools and public libraries.

The top five vote getters were:

  • Harry Potter series

  • "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee (458 votes)

  • "James and the Giant Peach" by Roald Dahl (257 votes)

  • "Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger (149 votes)

  • Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey (147 votes)

For readers age 10-13, Harry Potter (357), "James and the Giant Peach" (115) and the Captain Underpants series (104) were the leading vote getters. For readers age 14-18, Harry Potter (437), "The Outsiders" by S.E. Hinton (126) and "The Giver" by Lois Lowry (114) led voting. For adults, it was Harry Potter (696), "To Kill a Mockingbird" (458) and "The Catcher in the Rye" (149). Voting concluded September 30.

Books in the Harry Potter series also were the
most frequently challenged of the 21st century. The ALA reports there were more than 3,000 attempts to remove books from schools and public libraries between 2000 and 2005. Challenges are defined as formal, written complaints filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness. According to Judith F. Krug, director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, the number of challenges reflects only incidents reported, and for each reported, four or five remain unreported.

For more information on Banned Books Week, please visit