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Adams State University
Nielsen Library

Banned Books Week

The last week in September is the American Library Association's Banned Books Week, promoting not just the reading of banned books, but the awareness of the harm censorship can cause in communities around the world.

Nielsen Library's Banned Books Bracket

For Banned Books Week 2018, we're featuring a bracket of banned and challenged books. We encourage everyone to come in and vote for your favorite banned book. Which of our display items have you read? Which of them changed your life? Which of these books would be a loss to America's readers if it was permanently removed? What are the best (or worst) reasons for banning? Come in and vote, and by the end of the week, we'll let you know Adams State's most popular banned book!

And the winner is... TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD! Harper Lee is a genius with her come-back when she received notice that her book (her only book until shortly before her death) had been banned: 

Editor, The News Leader:

Recently I have received echoes down this way of the Hanover County School Board's activities, and what I've heard makes me wonder if any of its members can read.

Surely it is plain to the simplest intelligence that "To Kill a Mockingbird" spells out in words of seldom more than two syllables a code of honor and conduct, Christian in its ethic, that is the heritage of all Southerners. To hear that the novel is "immoral" has made me count the years between now and 1984, for I have yet to come across a better example of doublethink.

I feel, however, that the problem is one of illiteracy, not Marxism. Therefore I enclose a small contribution to the Beadle Bumble Fund that I hope will be used to enroll the Hanover County School Board in any first grade of its choice.

Below are Nielsen Library's banned/challenged books, and the reasons why they were challenged. In nearly all cases, books that "contain" a topic are thought -- at least by their challengers -- to naturally "promote" that topic... even if most readers agree that the author's purpose was the opposite: to address and/or condemn that topic.

TOP 10 Banned Books of 2017: (library owns following titles)

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (Grades 6-12) - discusses (read: glamorizes) suicide

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (Grades 9-12) - contains profanity and sex

Drama by Raina Telgemeier (Grades 3-12) - contains LGBT characters; banned because it's "confusing"

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (Grades 9-12) - contains (read: promotes) rape; promotes Islam (read: terrorism)

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Grades 8-12) - contains violence and the n-word (read: promotes racism)

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Grades 9-12) - contains drug use and profanity

And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell & Justin Richardson, illus. by Henry Cole (Grades K-2) - contains LGBT characters

I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel & Jazz Jennings, illus. by Shelagh McNicholas (Grades K-2) - contains LGBT characters

2 Books Nielsen Library does not own:

George by Alex Gino - contains LGBT characters

Sex is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg, illus. by Fiona Smyth - contains sex, LGBT characters, racism


TOP 100 Banned Books of the Decade (2000-2009) (first 25 of 100, titles which the library owns):

Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling (Chamber of Secrets, Spanish) (Grades 3-12) - contains magic (occult/Satanism)

Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (Agony of Alice) (Grades 6-8) - contains LGBT characters

The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier (Grades 9-12) - contains profanity and sex

Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck (Grades 9-12) - contains racism, profanity, and violence

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou (Grades 10-12) - contains rape, racism, and LGBT characters

Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz (More Scary Stories) (Grades 5-8) - contains scary stories & illustrations (duh...?)

His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman (Golden Compass) (Grades 7-12) - contains "anti-religious" (read: anti-Catholic) themes

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky (Grades 9-12) - contains alcohol/drug use, sex, and LGBT characters

Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers (Grades 9-12) - contains profanity, racism, and violence

It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris (Grades 6-8) - contains nudity and sex

Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey (Adventures of Capt. Underpants) (Grades 2-5) - contains 'potty language' and 'toilet humor'

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain (Grades 2-5) - first book to be banned in the US! - contains racism

The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison (Adult) - contains rape, violence, profanity, and a "socialist-communist agenda"

Forever, by Judy Blume (Grades 8-12) - contains sex and birth control, profanity

The Color Purple, by Alice Walker (Grades 9-12) - contains rape, sex, poverty, profanity, and racism

Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous (Grades 8-12) - contains profanity, anti-religious themes, sex, and drug use

Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger (Grades 9-12) - contains profanity, alcohol/drug use, racism, sex, and anti-religious themes

King & King, by Linda de Haan (Grades K-2) - contains LGBT characters

Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar (Grades 9-12) - contains sex, LGBT characters, alcohol/drug use, and profanity

The Giver, by Lois Lowry (Grades 8-12) - contains violence, and "dark" material (inappropriate for children)

In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak (Spanish & video) (Grades K-2) - contains nudity

Killing Mr. Griffin, by Lois Duncan (Grades 9-12) - contains violence, alcohol/drug use, anti-religious themes, and profanity


Most Feared/Banned Books in History:

The Bible -- compiled (Adult) - contains sex, violence, anti-religious themes, and "diverse content"

The Communist Manifesto – Friedrich Engels & Karl Marx (Adult) - promotes communism

The Call of the Wild – Jack London (Grades 6-8) - "promoted individualism and attacked totalitarianism" 

Tropic of Cancer – Henry Miller (Adult) - contains sex and profanity

The Lord of the Flies – William Golding (Grades 9-12) - contains profanity and violence, and "promotes slavery"

Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov (Adult) - contains sex (pedophilia & incest)

Green Eggs & Ham – Dr. Seuss (Grades K-3) - contains Marxist ideas (banned in China)

The Satanic Verses – Salman Rushdie (Adult) - contains anti-religious themes (anti-Muslim)

Heather Has Two Mommies – Leslea Newman & Laura Cornell (K-3) - contains LGBT characters

American Psycho – Bret East Ellis (Adult) - contains violence

The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown (Adult) - contains anti-religious themes

Fifty Shades of Grey – EL James (Adult) - contains sex and anti-religious themes