It's that time of year again, Banned Books Week, when the American Library Association (ALA) celebrates your freedom to read by highlighting banned or challenged books. This year's celebration is September 22 - 28, 2013. Before I checked out the Top Ten Challenged Books in 2012 (according to the ALA), I thought number one on the list might be the steamy Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy by E. L. James. How wrong I was! Actually, the series of Captain Underpants books by Dav Pilkey was reported by ALA to be the most frequently challenged books in the year 2012. The main complaints were offensive language and being unsuited to the age group. The Captain Underpants series has a history of being on the banned/challenged lists, in fact, it is currently number thirteen on the Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009, for various reasons as anti-family content, unsuited to age group, violence, offensive language, insensitivity, and encouraging children to disobey authority.
Since the late 1990's, Captain Underpants has battled such fiends as Professor Poopypants (later known as Tippy Tinkletrousers), the Naughty Cafeteria Ladies, and the Wicked Wedgie Woman, to the delight of reluctant boy readers. The main characters of the series are two mischievous boys who always seem to get in trouble and question authority at their school, Jerome Horwitz Elementary (Jerome Horwitz was the real name of Curly Howard, one of the Three Stooges). As a children's librarian, whenever a parent asks me about the appropriateness of behavior of a book's character and asks if I would recommend it, I always recommend reading it for themselves first. Then the parent and child can read the book together. Use any content as a teachable moment as to what your own expectations of your child's behavior is. Or don't read the books. It's your freedom of choice. As Captain Underpants would say, "TRA-LA-LAAAAA!"