banned booksThere were several news stories that popped up about banned books in 2013.

While I felt there more than usual, it could just have been the extra attention paid to these stories. Sometimes media coverage can skew how often events are actually happening.

However, in this case, book banning seems to be on the rise in the United States, according to Kids’ Right to Read Project in a story in The Guardian. The KRRP is an anti-censorship group that is part of the National Coalition Against Censorship.

According to the group, it investigated 49 incidents of book banning or removals from shelves in 29 states, a jump of 53 percent from last year.

KRRP’s Aracia O’Connor told The Guardian:

“Whether or not patterns like this are the result of co-ordination between would-be censors across the country is impossible to say. But there are moments, when a half-dozen or so challenges regarding race or LGBT content hit within a couple weeks, where you just have to ask ‘what is going on out there?”

Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man gained a lot of attention earlier this year when a North Carolina school district voted to remove the book from library shelves. However, the removal was lifted a short time later after the school board reconvened.

Another book that gained attention this year was Neil Gaiman’s [easyazon-link asin=”B000FC130E” locale=”us”]Neverwhere[/easyazon-link] when a parent complained in a New Mexico town and had the book removed. That removal was also later overturned.

Don’t make assumptions where these types of bans are happening. One of the most challenged books was The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. The book was required summer reading for sixth graders in a school in Queens, N.Y., until parents complained about the content (specifically about masturbation). The book was taken off the list after pressure (read the article here from The New York Daily News). This book has been banned in a number of school districts throughout the country.

If you tell a child they cannot read a book because there is racy material, it seems like a perfect reason to go out and read that book. When I was about 10 or 11 years old (maybe), my older sister and cousins read [easyazon-link asin=”0671704591″ locale=”us”]Hollywood Wives[/easyazon-link] by Jackie Collins, but she told me I was not allowed to read it. Well, I wanted to know why and read it while she wasn’t around. If she had never said anything about the book, I probably would never have cared. Thanks, sis!

Let’s see what 2014 has in store for book banning.


  1. Book banning is on the rise in the U.S. because stupidity as well as rigidity of thought are also on the rise. Idiots want to live in an insulated world where the only thing they or their children are exposed to are those that regurgitate their own thinking back at them. The fear in these people is palpable. They are paralyzed by the idea that reading or seeing something that widens a person’s view will stop them from being good little drones.

    I am a radical when it comes to free expression. As long as something does not cause material harm, there is nothing wrong with it. This includes so-called “indecent” books. I am not in the habit of caring what happens to fictional people. A book might feature the most horrendous forms of inhuman debauchery and be utterly disgusting. However, I save my thoughts for people who actually exist in the real world and would much rather save them.

  2. As discussed at length in this forum and, no doubt, many others, the rise in offend-ability is at the root of much of this talk about banning this or that. What we have to ask ourselves is what will be left after we ban all of the works that someone or some group finds offensive. I shudder to contemplate it.
    If we can’t become more tolerant, there won’t be much worth reading, looking at or listening to.

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