Today kicks off the start of Banned Book Week. Every year I go through the lists of the most popular books that were challenged the previous year to see what made the cut and why people wanted them banned.

It always strikes me how many books people want removed from libraries or schools. If every school and library removed all books that anyone found to be "offensive" or "inappropriate" we would never read any great works. We are lucky that most of the time the bans don't get very far, either the library rejects them or the courts shoot them down.

A few years back we had to fight with a school here in Minnesota that wanted to ban newspapers because they had too much "inappropriate" content. Luckily we didn't have to go to court and the school agreed to keep the newspapers in the library after we wrote them a letter.

Here are some of my favorite books that have been frequently banned or challenged throughout the years:

  • The Glass Castle by Jeanette Wells; reason for challenges: offensive language, sexually explicit
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins; reasons for challenges: anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini; reasons for challenges: homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee; reasons for challenges: offensive language; racism
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley; reasons for challenges: insensitivity, offensive language, racism, and sexually explicit
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie; reasons for challenges: offensive language, racism, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and violence
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker; reasons for challenges: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  • 1984 by George Orwell; reasons for challenges: pro-communist and contained explicit sexual matter.
  • Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling; reasons for challenges: occult/Satanism, violence
  • Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson; reasons for challenges: occult/Satanism, offensive language, violence

-plus many, many more. To read a more complete list of books that are frequently challenged you can visit the American Library Associations' website