BBW: Statistics of Challenged Books

One of the best resources I can think of for information about banned and challenged books is the American Library Association’s website. As I was browsing around the site this year, I came across a bunch of statistics that I thought would be fun to share with you all.

First, the top 10 challenged books for 2010:
1. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
Reasons: homosexuality, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age group
2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: offensive language, racism, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
3. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
Reasons: insensitivity, offensive language, racism, and sexually explicit
4. Crank, by Ellen Hopkins
Reasons: drugs, offensive language, and sexually explicit
5. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
Reasons: sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and violence
6. Lush, by Natasha Friend
Reasons: drugs, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
7. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
Reasons: sexism, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
8. Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich
Reasons: drugs, inaccurate, offensive language, political viewpoint, and religious viewpoint
9. Revolutionary Voices, edited by Amy Sonnie
Reasons: homosexuality and sexually explicit
10. Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer
Reasons: religious viewpoint and violence

On their page of statistics, ALA graphs challenges by year, reason, initiator and institution from 1990-2010. I’m not going to go over all of them, but these are a few things I found interesting about the graphs.

ALA currently has 10,676 challenges on record in their Challenge Database (1990-2010). I’m not including the figures from 1990 in my assessment of the graph for challenges by year, since I do not know when in 1990 they started keeping track. So! Disregarding 1990 – the highest year for challenges? 1995 (with 7620). The lowest? 2010 (with 348). I’d say people are getting smarter about censorship and banning, but no – the numbers fluctuate year to year, rather than show a steady decline.

The most popular reason for a book to be challenged? Sexually explicit at 3169. Coming in second is offensive language , followed closely by violence and that all-encompassing unsuited to age group. There were three reasons with below 100 records – abortion, anti-ethnic and inaccurate.

As for challenge by initiator, I was not surprised at all. The initiator of the most challenges in the ALA database? Parents, at 6103. Followed by patron, at a large drop to 1450. The institutions with the highest numbers of challenges logged? School (4048), school library (3659) and public library (2679).

Now, these figures are just the ones from the American Library Association. I browsed the Canadian Library Association to see if they had anything to report on banned/challenged books but did not find anything. However, the website Freedom to Read has a link to a PDF file of challenged books and magazines as compiled by the CLA.

Advertisements