For more than thirty years, Banned Books Week has drawn attention to the most challenged books in libraries, schools and institutions across the country. Many of the most recognizable classics in the world have graced the list for containing content deemed unsuitable for children and teens, excessive violence, offensive language, and more.
This week, we celebrate our freedom to read by highlighting the latest list of most challenged books.
Here's a look at the top five...
1.Captain Underpants (series) by Dav Pilkey
When prankster fourth-graders, George and Harold, hypnotize their principal into thinking he is an underpants wearing superhero, things get out of hand as he escapes to the streets and starts fighting crime. Originally written for reluctant young readers, Captain Underpants is an award winning series that has had children (and their parents) in hysterics as they witness the adventures of Harold, George, and Principal Krupp (a.k.a. Captain Underpants) in their latest attempts to save the world. Pilkey's use of offensive potty humor and the inclusion of violent scenes have brought this series to the top of the most challenged list for the past two years running.
2.The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Originally published in 1970, The Bluest Eye is Morrison's first novel, following the life of Pecola Breedlove, a young African-American girl growing up in a primarily white community. Often mocked for her curly hair and brown eyes, Pecola yearns to fit in with the blonde hair, blue-eyed youth that surround her. Morrison, a Nobel laureate, presents a haunting story that is a lesson in self-hatred, racial identity, and our obsession with conformity. Offensive language, explicit content, and violent scenes are the primary reasons it has reached the second spot on the most challenged list this year.
3.The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Sherman Alexie's award winning book tells the story of Junior, a young Native American teen who attempts to break away from the reservation where he grew up, and enroll in a farming town high school to secure a better future. Based on the author's own past experiences, readers are brought on a journey of self discovery as Junior becomes alienated from his tribe and attempts to fit in to a new, more privileged community. This is the fourth consecutive year that The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian has made the most challenged books list. Racism, offensive language, and scenes containing drug, alcohol and tobacco use have been the primary reasons for challenging this title.
4. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
The first in E.L. James's Fifty Shades Trilogy, Fifty Shades of Grey follows literature student, Anastasia Steele, as she embarks on an affair with successful entrepreneur, Christian Grey. First published in 2013, the Fifty Shades Trilogy has become an international bestseller and is set to hit the big screen in February 2015. It has also been removed from public library shelves and banned from entire cities due to its explicit content and language.
5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The first book in the Hunger Games Trilogy is famed for its violent content. Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old living in futuristic Panem, volunteers to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a gladiator-like televised competition in which representatives from different districts fight to the death. The trilogy by Suzanne Collins has become an international bestseller since its debut in 2010, and the third installment of the film adaptation is due out later this year. The book has been banned from schools and libraries for containing content that is unsuitable for teens.
Interested in taking a chance on a banned book? For the banned book lovers among us, or for those who are just plain curious, check out our lists of Recent Banned Books and Most Challenged Classics.