Contact: Stephanie Kuenn
Communications Specialist
For Immediate Release
September 25, 2007

YALSA celebrates Banned Books Week with

“50 Years of Reading Free”

CHICAGO - Intellectual Freedom Committee of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), the fastest-growing division of the American Library Association (ALA), marks Banned Books Week with “50 Years of Reading Free,” a booklist featuring frequently challenged and banned books with teen appeal. The list also recognizes YALSA’s role in fighting censorship throughout the division’s 50-year history.

Many of the list’s 50 books have landed on the Office of Intellectual Freedom’s (OIF) frequently challenged lists, with titles including:

  • classic novels, such as “Forever” by Judy Blume
  • informative nonfiction, like “What’s Happening to My Body?” by Lynda Madaras
  • YALSA award winners like “The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things” by Carolyn Mackle
  • popular, recently published fiction series such as Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling and Gossip Girl by Cicely von Ziegesar

The full list is available on the Intellectual Freedom Committee’s Wiki Page ( ), along with an essay on censorship of young adult books throughout the last 50 years. “50 Years of Reading Free” also cites specific reasons for the challenges, making it a ready-made book display for school library media specialists, teen librarians, and educators to use in their libraries and classrooms.

“We specifically chose books that have teen appeal—classics that teens have to read on a regular basis in classrooms, teen novels that have been in the media, and teen nonfiction on topics some find controversial,” said Kristin Fletcher-Spear, chair of YALSA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee. “A challenge isn't just about that one book—it’s about all the future books and the philosophy that libraries should be able to carry something for every single person in their community without fear of media or financial retribution from a single entity in a community.”

Fletcher-Spear notes that librarians facing a challenge can come to YALSA and OIF for support. “It can be really scary when a patron challenges materials, and we want librarians to be able to come to us for help,” she said. “The YALSA Intellectual Freedom committee will be there to help librarians faced with challenges with reviews, moral support and guidance in working with OIF.”

Librarians facing a challenge to young adult materials can learn more on the YALSA Intellectual Freedom Web page ( ) or by visiting the Office of Information Freedom’s Web site (

For 50 years,
YALSA has been the world leader in selecting books, videos, and audio books for teens.
For more information about YALSA or for lists of recommended reading, viewing and listening, go to, or contact the YALSA office by phone, 800-545-2433, ext. 4390; or e-mail: