This Year's Banned and Challenged Books

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This Year's Banned and Challenged Books

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Set 3, 2008, 11:08pm

The ALA has a list, but this one is more comprehensive with all the info on why the books were banned and challenged. Discuss?

Set 9, 2008, 7:41am

Can I just say one thing? There is a huge difference between having all these books in a public library, and teaching them to Middle School age kids in a classroom. Some of these books discussed I wouldn't have wanted my kids to read at age 13, such as All the Pretty Horses or The Bluest Eye for example.

On the other hand, most of these battles appear to be over high school/ or individual HS classroom libraries. Also, I can't believe that the Harry Potter books are still being fought over. Looks like that particular war is NEVER going to die down.

Set 11, 2008, 10:06pm

clamairy, I see your point, and I think parents have a right to control their kids' reading.

But maybe it bears considering whether it's possible to find a book about real life themes that isn't objectionable to somebody or other, and how teachers are supposed to develop curricula in the face of an increasingly polarized society.

BTW, we read "Great Expectations" in the 8th grade, which has one of the most sick, twisted and manipulative characters in English literature. Nobody ever thought about how reading about a middle-aged woman who sat around a table with rotten food in a tattered wedding dress planning the emotional destruction of a little boy might have scarred our young minds.

(Though frankly I was mostly bored except with the parts with Magwich in them.)

I wonder what they'd make of it in Fayetteville, Ark.?

Set 13, 2008, 10:16am

>3 nohrt4me: I never really gave a second thought to Great Expectations, and now, I totally see your point! I think people worry too much about one or two things in the text but not about context.

I think the sad thing about banned books is that it closes a dialogue. Where before, kids could read these books and then discuss the "controversial" issues in class or with parents, when they become banned or challenged, the kids may still read the book (if only because someone told them not to) but they won't get the benefit of discussing it with an adult.

I think what kids read should be up to their parents, even if a lot of parents out there have really closed minds. School libraries do have a responsibility to keep things age appropriate for the school, but they shouldn't be constantly under fire for having books that are no more damaging to young minds than the reality of adolescence.

Public libraries, on the other hand, have no such responsibility, and I believe that banning books from a public institution is awful. While it might be easy to find these banned books at a bookstore, that makes reading a privilege, and in a country where we so value our freedom of speech and expression, I think we should value our intellectual freedom equally. Everyone has the right to read what they want here, regardless of social class, and that's what makes libraries so great.

Fev 28, 2009, 9:03pm

May I ask... Why is there so much controversy over books "promoting a homosexual agenda" in America? As a European (Swedish) I don't quite understand what the fuss is all about.

In regard to some of the books I must confess that I'm stuck between feeling perplexed and amused.
The mere idea of people banning (or attempting to ban) books from public libraries feels so odd and downright ludicrous to me that I don't really know what to say.

Ofcourse school libraries should keep the age of the students in mind when purchasing books, but one mustn't forget that reading should also be a way for the students to grow, challenge their own thoughts and ideas (As well as those of their parents, if no one challenged the ideas and beliefs of their parents, there would be no progress.) and develop new ways to look at things, to discuss and investigate. Children/adolescents can't be "protected" from everything.

(Am I making sense? Probably not, it's 3AM after all.)

Fev 28, 2009, 9:22pm

Yes, you're making sense. It's the situation that often does not.

Anti-homosexual feelings often seem more visceral that logical. People fear what they cannot understand. Couple this with the fact that the US is home to many quite conservative religious groups (dating clear back to our colonial days), and you get a lot of people who think no further than the nearest Bible verse that makes them comfortable.

I have sympathy for people whose convictions come from sober thought - and often tragic experiences. I don't agree with them, but I can respect their feelings. I do have scant patience with folks who hate without thought and can give no reasons other than to parrot whatever extremist yahoo they happened to have heard last.

Whoa. That hit a button I didn't even know I had!

Maio 14, 2009, 9:29am

I realize this is an old topic, but I'm back after a prolonged absence. Please forgive me for dredging up old matter. :)

First and foremost, I don't agree with pulling a book from a public library, so what I say here is not intended as any kind of pro-ban statement.

To speak to the controversy over books that promote a homosexual agenda, I think my problem is with the agenda, and not who one is attracted too. I'm not sure which books you are thinking of specifically, but books that attack marriage for example can be quite inflammatory to someone who feels marriage should be between a man and a woman, primarily for the purpose of procreation.

There are a host of arguments to be made against books with an agenda, and people who feel strongly are going to rail against them. Arguments that are often made against fellow Catholics who are censored because their views are not in line with the "homosexual agenda" among other causes.

Do I think the books should be banned, no. Do I feel the need to speak out against those books that directly challenge my beliefs, yes.

Hope you find this relevant.

Maio 14, 2009, 9:56am

droupou: If you don't like books that "directly challenge your beliefs," don't read them. It's that simple.

Maio 14, 2009, 12:50pm

I'm confused. How does reading a book with a "homosexual agenda" influence one's sexuality? If I give one of these books to a boy-crazy 13 year old girl, will she become a lesbian?

(Yes, I'm being flip. But really . . . do people actually think that a book can change someone's sexual orientation? Or is there an issue that I'm unaware of?)

Editado: Maio 14, 2009, 1:05pm

I guess some people are afraid that books that discuss a "certain lifestyle" will make that lifestyle normal or acceptable, and they (the objectors) are opposed to such acceptance.

Don't understand it myself. People are what they are.

Maio 14, 2009, 1:22pm

Yeah, I can see that.

Maio 14, 2009, 2:09pm

>9 Nickelini: We have a worldwide network of superbly-dressed agents who encode subliminals into every use of "gay", "lesbian", etc. that especially target Christians to brainwash them into believing that delimiting love by what you can stick a penis into to make a baby pop out is the very thing that makes a life solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

Drat, now that I've told you we'll have to think up a new plan at the next supersecret ultraorganized meeting of every sexuality subculture because we totally don't have any infighting and the only thing keeping us from taking over the world is people like droupou who keep telling everyone about the Homosexual Agenda which it turns out is the one Achilles' heel of every conspiracy formulated by the most brilliant minds of the counterculture.

Maio 14, 2009, 3:41pm

I thought the campaign was using movies like "Kramer vs Kramer" and TV design shows to to seduce us hetros to the other side.

Maio 14, 2009, 3:51pm

>7 droupou:

There are books that offend me, although the agenda which they promote is not the alleged "homosexual agenda." I don't think which books they are is relevant to the conversation, so I won't name a topic. I might wish that nobody held a certain opinion, if I thought it was harmful, but I'd never suggest that people who hold that opinion shouldn't write books about it, and that those books shouldn't be available to anybody who wants to read them. Does that make sense?

Maio 14, 2009, 6:15pm

i have a gay friend who was raised in a very Southern Baptist family. when we were in high school, he decided he should come out to his parents. they did not take it well at all. they actually sent him to one of those clinics that is supposed to help you overcome being gay, it's basically homosexuals anonymous. at some point, one of the counselors was telling them about the dangers of reading certain literature that had gay themes. his argument was that this literature was likely to inflame their gay tendencies and cause them to lapse back into homosexual behaviors.

now, if there are groups that honestly believe they can "cure" someone of being gay, then they also have to believe that being gay is caused by outside stimuli, stimuli that they can counteract. isn't that enough reason for them to want to ban those books? if no one is every faced with gay influences, then they can't possibly end up gay, right (this is ridiculous, but some people honestly think that).

Maio 14, 2009, 6:41pm


Books that support marriage equality do not "attack marriage". Nor do books that simply portray gay people as normal human beings support an "agenda", other than one against bigotry and hatred. While I realize that this particular anti-hatred agenda may be one you disagree with, couching it as an attack on marriage is a bit out of line.

While I'll explain why I have problems with books I disagree with, much as I would do for anything else, I'm not going to try to prevent you from reading them. -- I don't have the time even if I did want to do so, since I'm too busy fighting laws that try to take away my civil rights or prevent me from visiting my spouse in the hospital if she gets sick.

Maio 16, 2009, 8:46pm

>16 lorax: Well said! That's pretty much exactly what I was going to respond with.

Also, I think the term "homosexual agenda" is hilarious. And insane. It's not a political statement, for chrissakes.

Maio 16, 2009, 9:39pm

Not that I disagree with your stance on gay marriage; but, the way you phrased your post is a bit slippery. Dropou was wrong to phrase gay marriage advocacy as "an attack on marriage". But, when you say "Nor do books that simply portray gay people as normal human beings support an 'agenda'" you ignore the fact that dropou's point was not about the portrayal of gay people as normal human beings, but about the advocacy of gay marriage, which is a political agenda. (Again, it shouldn't have to be, but it is).

I.e., the issue dropou raised (albeit badly worded) was about books that take a stance on a political issue. I think this position could be objected to on other grounds, though. Hypocrisy: the people raising the objection probably would not object to books that support their own political agenda. Or, one could argue that kids are supposed to learn that books are not "absolute truth" but rather arguments for ideas that one should evaluate critically, and don't mean that the person teaching/the library loaning the book advocate the position.

Maio 17, 2009, 5:24pm

I saw a graph on Graphjam the other day that illustrates the so-called "gay agenda" beautifully.

Maio 17, 2009, 6:31pm

>19 weener: That makes me really happy. I need more glitter in my life, anyway.

Maio 17, 2009, 6:32pm

>19 weener: That's wonderful.

Possibly inappropriate nit-picking: The parents who typed up the petition need to know how to take citations. And know the difference between plural and possession ("mom's" instead of "moms"). It might give some people fuel to mock their educations, hm?

Maio 18, 2009, 12:19am

Are there books out there that don't have agendas of one kind or another? Doesn't the very act of publicly telling stories with a viewpoint mean that the author wants to communicate some ideas he or she thinks are important to people?

I'd like to know why all the books that contain a love story between a man and a woman aren't promoting the heterosexual agenda.

Maio 18, 2009, 5:09pm


We were talking about childrens' books, though. Things like Daddy's Roommate, not Why Marriage Matters. While "gay people are human beings" is still, sadly, a political issue, it isn't about marriage.

And I still don't see how me wanting to get married, or have my marriage recognized when I travel out of state to visit my in-laws, is attacking anyone's marriage, but that's off-topic.

Maio 18, 2009, 6:40pm

And I still don't see how me wanting to get married, or have my marriage recognized when I travel out of state to visit my in-laws, is attacking anyone's marriage

But don't you see that marriage is the social institution by which the vast sinful urges of mankind are channeled toward the virtuous goal of heterosexual procreation? If the dam marriage is not maintained pure, the reservoir of sin will burst free and Satan's armies will march victorious across the ruined land.

(And now I'm really off topic, but I couldn't resist.)

Maio 19, 2009, 8:51am

I hate to be the one to say it, but I think that the reservoir of sin burst free and Satan's armies marched victorious across the land long, long ago.

Maio 20, 2009, 9:42am

23> Don't forget And Tango Makes Three, where two male penguins adopt an orphaned chick. Left-wing propaganda I tell you, even if it is based on a true story.

Maio 20, 2009, 3:48pm

Wow, a lot was read into my statement. I'm not suggesting banning any book because it holds a view point. Even one I disagree with. I went so far as to state that outright.

I was responding to the question in #5 "Why is there so much controversy over books "promoting a homosexual agenda" in America?" I enjoy reading books that challenge my beliefs, and that I find controversial. It opens the way for conversations like portions of the one above.

>9 Nickelini: No, reading a book will not in my opinion make someone homosexual.

>12 swevener: Good luck with your messages. You may want to strengthen your signal, I don't seem to be receiving. ;0)

>16 lorax: I disagree that books that try to redefine marriage are anything other than an attack on traditional marriage. Marriage has historically been between a man and a woman, and is expected (though not always successful at) to create children. As for your statement regarding books that portray gay people as normal human beings must therefor support an agenda, I didn't mean to imply that. I'm sorry if I did. I look to Harry Potter as an example.

>18 beschrich: Sorry I'm not a very eloquent writer. :) To reiterate, I'm not objecting to the books, only pointing out why they create such controversy.

>22 Tigercrane: A good point about books in general having agendas. Again, I was responding to the question about why the controversy existed, not about stopping people from writing.


Maio 20, 2009, 5:05pm


I disagree that books that try to redefine marriage are anything other than an attack on traditional marriage. Marriage has historically been between a man and a woman, and is expected (though not always successful at) to create children.

Well, that requires a rather convenient starting point for "history" -- in many cultures, for much of human history, marriage has been between one man and one or more women, and as a legal contract until quite recently it's been between two men (the husband and the woman's father), with the woman having little or no say in the matter.

Setting that aside, though, my marriage doesn't invalidate or attack yours. So it's hard to see how changing the meaning of a word will in any way change what the thing itself gives you -- you still get all the legal benefits and social recognition. It's like we're trying to set up our own chapter of a club -- not even asking to join yours, just to be able to have our own, we're not asking you to talk to us or sit next to us or anything -- and you're complaining that taking away the exclusivity is an attempt to shut down your club.

Maio 20, 2009, 5:18pm

I have trouble with the issue of procreation. Is it the belief of these people that infertile people have no right to marriage? Or post-menopausal women? Or men with "erectile disfuncton"?

Maio 20, 2009, 6:52pm

#29 -- That used to be true from a legal standpoint. Back when people were only allowed to divorce on narrow grounds, infertility was one of them. That isn't the case anymore, because the entire meaning of marriage has shifted from being an alliance of families for property reasons to being an alliance of individuals for personal reasons.

Nor do we force people who do have children together to get married, or stop them from getting divorced. And homosexual people are capable of having children and bringing those into their relationships. Much as people like to pretend otherwise, marriage is no longer about having children, and hasn't been for a long time.

Editado: Maio 20, 2009, 8:16pm

You know, until alarmingly recent times, marriage in the United States seemed to be defined as between a man and a woman of the same race. Was that change for the worse?

Maio 21, 2009, 11:36am

28> If it is as simple as just changing a definition of a word, why not call it something else? I suspect it is more than just changing a definition, but changing the way we think. In some cases I agree with this (see post #31), in some I don't. I feel marriage should be for the purpose of creating a family, not to obtain legal benefits. That would be more along the lines of an alliance, or perhaps a legal partnership. Marriage is a spiritual connection created by God, not by law.

29> If by these people you mean me, no. I think if they get married, they should continue to try and have children. As "we" say, Miracles happen.

30> Perhaps that is one of the problems with society today. We don't focus on people, and families anymore. We focus on money & ourselves.


Maio 21, 2009, 1:43pm

If marriage is only about children, then my neighbors, a lesbian couple who had a child through use of a sperm bank, are more entitled to be married than my friend littlegeek, who is married to a man but childless by choice.

Maio 21, 2009, 2:02pm

33> Their union did not bring about the birth of the child. Artificial insemination, which is a whole other minefield of opinion, did. What will their child do for a fatherly influence? I feel that too many children who live in the same house as the man that helped create them grow up without the positive influence of a father, let alone the children that grow up without one at all.

Maio 21, 2009, 2:24pm

My best friend had a hysterectomy when she was 21. Despite that, she somehow felt justified to marry her love, and they've been happily married (in their eyes, anyway) for 30 years. Never a possibility of procreation. Hmmm.

Maio 21, 2009, 2:48pm

I'm going to have to drop out of this thread. I can't be civil when my family is being attacked.

Maio 21, 2009, 3:05pm

#34 -- I guess my sister-in-law, who gave birth to a child conceived with her husband's sperm and another woman's egg (the child later died for unrelated reasons) and who is now raising an adopted child, better get divorced.

My friend who was raised under the thumb of an alcoholic father often says he wishes his parents had gotten divorced so he didn't have to watch his dad beat his mom up. I wonder what's wrong with him that he doesn't appreciate that fatherly influence?

And why evade my point about childless couples? Entitled to marriage or not?

There are more things in heaven and earth, droupou, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Maio 21, 2009, 4:08pm

35> I feel she is justified also.

36> I am sorry I have upset you.

37> There is a great deal I don't know about your sister-in-law's situation, so I simply don't know how to respond. I certainly wouldn't suggest she should get a divorce based on the information here.

Your friends father would fall under the category I spoke of when I suggested there are far to many children living in the same house as the man who should be their father, and simply isn't. I certainly didn't imply there was anything wrong with your friend, or any of the children that find themselves in that situation.

I don't feel I have evaded your point. A man and a woman who are in love can marry.

I agree, there are more things in heaven and earth...

I have clearly upset a number of people, and this discuss is far off topic. At this point, I too am going to drop out of this thread as well.

Jun 4, 2009, 7:31pm

That is one of the fears of the people who have books with overt homosexual and lesbian themes removed from libraries.

There is also a fear that reading such books will lead their children away from the Bible and toward anything not explicitly condoned by the Bible.

Jun 5, 2009, 11:39pm

As usual a couple of my favourite authors are on the list.

Editado: Jun 6, 2009, 11:14am


There are a lot of people, like me, who fear the exposure to ‘Christianity’, as now practiced will turn our children into misogynistic hate mongers but we don’t try to ban books promoting that lifestyle. We just pray that our children will be intelligent and make the right decision.

I believe that refusing to expose children to other ideas is a result of a lack of conviction in a belief, a fear that the ideas will not stand up to questioning.

Jun 6, 2009, 11:11am

I hope you meant "pray"!! ;-)

Jun 6, 2009, 11:14am

Yes, I did. Thanks for pointing that out.

Jun 6, 2009, 11:40am

I'm not normally a tyrant on spelling, but "prey" gave an entirely different meaning!!

Jun 23, 2009, 10:40am

"There are a lot of people, like me, who fear the exposure to ‘Christianity’, as now practiced will turn our children into misogynistic hate mongers..."

I know I said I was going to step out, however I cannot let that go. Christianity does not teach hate, it teaches us about God, and his will. Some people assume we hate them because we don't let them have what they want. I won't let my 5 year old play with my chainsaw. That doesn't mean I don't love her, it just means I don't think it is good for her. The same is applicable to any of my statements above.

Now I suppose the next logical attack will be to point out historical mistakes. The Inquisition, Galileo, and such... That is what they where though... mistakes, made by humans. Not to be used as examples of church doctrine.

Editado: Jun 23, 2009, 11:57am

The Inquisition, the persecution of Galileo, the Crusades, they were church doctrine.

Any nut job can come speak out today and claim God has spoken to them. The radical anti-choice fringe is as guilty of the murders and bombings at woman’s clinics as Hitler is of the Holocaust. Any ‘mainstream’ church that does not go out of its way to denounce the hate speech, not just the inevitable violence, shares that guilt. I could go on but the way Christianity has been corrupted by power hungry extremists makes me ill.

Yet the masses go right along, following lockstep behind anyone who ‘speaks to God.’