Treasure your freedom to read, get hooked on a banned book

Contact: Macey Morales

ALA Media Relations


For Immediate Release

September 19, 2007

Treasure your freedom to read, get hooked on a banned book

Harry Potter, James and the Giant Peach, Captain Underpants

is your favorite book safe?

(CHICAGO) According to the American Library Association's (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF), more than a book a day faces removal from free and open public access in U.S. schools and libraries. During Banned Books Week, September 29 - October 6, 2007, thousands of libraries and bookstores throughout the nation will celebrate a democratic society's most basic freedom -- the freedom to read.

In Chicago, the ALA will co-sponsor a national kickoff Read-Out! event, on September 29, with numerous authors performing readings from their banned or "challenged" books. Joining such authors as Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, authors of "And Tango Makes Three," the most challenged book of 2006, will be local Chicago celebrities such as Haki Madhubuti, founder of Third World Press, and Mary Dempsey, commissioner of the Chicago Public Library.

"Not every book is right for every reader," said American Library Association (ALA) President Loriene Roy. "Libraries serve users from a variety of backgrounds - that's why libraries need - and have - such a wide range of materials. Individuals must have the right to choose what materials are suitable for themselves and their families."

Each year, the OIF receives hundreds of reports on books and other materials that were "challenged" by people who asked that they be removed from school or library shelves. There were 546 known attempts to remove books in 2006, and more than 9, 200 attempts since the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom began to electronically compile and publish information on book challenges in 1990. Challenges are defined as formal, written complaints filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.

Most book challenges reported to OIF have been reported from school libraries (71 percent) and public libraries (24 percent). Parents lodged sixty-one percent of the book challenges, followed by library patrons at 15 percent and administrators at 9 percent.

"Part of living in a democracy means respecting each other's differences and the right of all people to choose for themselves what they and their families read," said Judith F. Krug, director, OIF. "We must remain vigilant to assure that would-be censors don't threaten the very basis of our democracy."

The "10 Most Challenged Books of 2006" reflect a range of themes, and consist of the following titles:

  • "And Tango Makes Three," by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, for homosexuality, anti-family, and unsuited to age group;

  • "Alice" series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor for sexual content and offensive language;

  • "Athletic Shorts," by Chris Crutcher for homosexuality and offensive language;

  • "Beloved," by Toni Morrison for offensive language, sexual content, and unsuited to age group;

  • "The Bluest Eye," by Toni Morrison for sexual content, offensive language, and unsuited to age group;

  • "The Chocolate War," by Robert Cormier for sexual content, offensive language, and violence;

  • "The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things," by Carolyn Mackler for sexual content, anti-family, offensive language, and unsuited to age group;

  • "Gossip Girls," series by Cecily Von Ziegesar for homosexuality, sexual content, drugs, unsuited to age group, and offensive language;

  • "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," by Stephen Chbosky for homosexuality, sexually explicit, offensive language, and unsuited to age group; and

  • "Scary Stories" series, by Alvin Schwartz for occult/Satanism, unsuited to age group, violence, and insensitivity.

Off the list this year, but in years past have often been included, are such classics as "Catcher in the Rye," by J.D. Salinger; "Of Mice and Men," by John Steinbeck; and "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," by Mark Twain.

Banned Books Week 2007 has the theme "Ahoy! Treasure Your Freedom to Read and Get Hooked on a Banned Book." Libraries and bookstores around the country will celebrate the freedom to read with exhibits, readings and special events. Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the ALA, the Association of American Publishers, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the National Association of College Stores. It is endorsed by the Library of Congress Center for the Book.

For more information on book challenges and censorship, please visit the ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom's Banned Books Web site at

The Office for Intellectual Freedom is charged with implementing ALA policies concerning the concept of intellectual freedom as embodied in the Library Bill of Rights, the Association's basic policy on free access to libraries and library materials. The goal of the office is to educate librarians and the general public about the nature and importance of intellectual freedom in libraries.

The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with more than 64,000 members.