Banned Books Week is an annual event held during the last week of September (September 25 – October 2, 2010) that celebrates the freedom to read for all ages. It is sponsored by several organizations, including the American Library Association and the American Booksellers Association, and encourages people to read books that have been targets of attempted bannings or restrictions.
Take a look at the list of the most frequently challenged books from the last decade and read a few of our favorites that have caused controversy over the years.
1. The Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey
How can you resist a super hero story that has the tagline, “Faster than a speeding waistband… more powerful than boxer shorts…”? Captain Underpants is pure silly goofiness that kids will love. Sure, the stories have some potty humor, literally (he battles Dr. Diaper, Professor Poopypants and Wedgie Woman), but it’s all harmless and hilarious good fun that will have even the most reluctant readers eager to turn the page.
2. The Stupids series by Harry Allard
These tongue-in-cheek picture books (written by the same author as Miss Nelson is Missing) may be about a family with the last name “Stupid,” but there is nothing mean-spirited about the stories. Follow the Stupids through silly, satirical adventures that are as much fun for grown-ups as they are for children.
3. The Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park
Junie B. Jones is a sassy, high-spirited kindergartener who is beloved by young readers but often criticized by adults for her occasional naughty behavior and lapses in grammar and spelling. Parents may have to point out to their children that “pasketti” is actually pronounced “spaghetti,” but Junie is a lovable, humorous and realistic little girl who keeps you on your toes.
4. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
Kids who love the classic picture book Where the Wild Things Are will be entranced by this surreal adventure from the same author. Mickey is a small boy who goes on a dream journey through a baker’s kitchen, narrowly missing getting baked into a cake and flying through the air in a plane made of dough. Mickey falls out of his pajamas and is depicted without clothes through most of the book, which is why it frequently ends up on the banned books list. Most kids don’t seem to think the nudity is a big deal, though (as parents struggling to dress small children probably understand!).
5. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
This science-fiction chapter book, the first in a series of three, is an engrossing adventure story that parents will love reading along with older children. The fantastic story centers around three children who travel through time and space, help good triumph over evil and learn the importance of appreciating people’s differences. Critics object to the book because of the witchcraft and magic that make the fantasy so compelling.
Did any of your favorite books make the list? Share your thoughts on Banned Book Week in the comments.