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Banned Books Week: Why are Books Banned?

Why are Books Banned?

Each book that is banned or censored is done so for the content within the pages. There are a few common reasons that books have been banned or censored in schools, libraries, and book stores. These include:

Racial Issues: About and/or encouraging racism towards one or more group of people.

Encouragement of "Damaging" Lifestyles: Content of book encourages lifestyle choices that are not of the norm or could be considered dangerous or damaging. This could include drug use, co-habitation without marriage, or homosexuality.

Blasphemous Dialog: The author of the book uses words such as "God" or "Jesus" as profanity. This could also include any use of profanity or swear words within the text that any reader might find offensive.

Sexual Situations or Dialog: Many books with content that include sexual situations or dialog are banned or censored.

Violence or Negativity: Books with content that include violence are often banned or censored. Some books have also been deemed too negative or depressing and have been banned or censored as well.

Presence of Witchcraft: Books that include magic or witchcraft themes. A common example of these types of books are J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter Series.

Religious Affiliations (unpopular religions): Books have been banned or censored due to an unpopular religious views or opinions in the content of the book. This is most commonly related to satanic or witchcraft themes found in the book. Although, many books have also been banned or censored for any religious views in general that might not coincide with the public view.

Political Bias: Most Commonly occurs when books support or examine extreme political parties/philosophies such as: fascism, communism, anarchism, etc.

Age Inappropriate: These books have been banned or censored due to their content and the age level at which they are aimed. In some cases children's books are viewed to have "inappropriate" themes for the age level at which they are written for.

Many books have been banned or censored in one or more of these categories due to a misjudgment or misunderstanding about the books contents and message. Although a book may have been banned or labeled a certain way, it is important that the reader makes his/her own judgements on the book. Many books that have been banned or censored later were dropped from banned books lists and were no longer considered controversial. For this reason, banned books week occurs yearly to give readers a chance to revisit past or recently banned books to encourage a fresh look into the controversies the books faced.

Source: "Common Reasons for Banning Books," Fort Lewis College, John F. Reed Library. Banned Books, Censorship & Free Speech. November 15, 2013. Web. March 19, 2014.

Why, Where, Who

According to the American Library Association's page on 'Frequently challenged books of the 21st century,' "American libraries were faced with 4,659 challenges" between 2001 and 2010. These challenges were reported according to reason, location, and initiator.

Reason:
sexually explicit 1536
offensive language 1231
unsuited to age group 977
violence 553
homosexuality 370
religious viewpoints 304
anti-family 121

 

Location:
classrooms 1720
school libraries 1432
public libraries 1119
academic libraries 106
college classes 32
prisons *
special libraries *
community groups *
student groups *
                            * = isolated cases

 

Initiator:
parents 48%
patrons 10%
administrators 10%

1990-2012 Challenges by Year

1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
157
508
641
686
757
762
661
595
478
472
646
448
 
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
515
458
547
405
546
420
513
460
348
326
464
 

United States Banning Books?