ALA’s Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2010

Not sure what to read next?  Check out the American Library Association’s Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2010.  The list below includes the reasons given for the challenges as well as my own personal notes on the books.

And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
Reasons: homosexuality, religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group
Sue here:  This book struck me as very straightforward.  Two male penguins raised a penguin chick.

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.
Sue here:  I loved this book.  It was a very realistic depiction of life on and off the reservation.  These boys seemed really . . . real.  So sometimes the language was off color and, let’s face it, they referred to sex just like real teen age boys.  Awesome book.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Reasons: insensitivity, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit.
Sue here:  I have to wonder if parents were objecting to this book when it was on our reading list in high school.

Crank by Ellen Hopkins
Reasons: drugs, offensive language, sexually explicit
Sue here:  I haven’t read this one yet, but I have heard excellent things about it.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Reasons: sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence

Lush by Natasha Friend
Reasons: drugs, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones
Reasons: sexism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
Sue here:  I’ve read other work by Sones and really liked it.

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By In America by Barbara Ehrenreich
Reasons: drugs, inaccurate, offensive language, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint

Revolutionary Voices edited by Amy Sonnie
Reasons: homosexuality, sexually explicit

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Reasons: religious viewpoint, violence

Sue here:  Over all, do people object to any old mention of religion?  Or do they only get testy when it doesn’t agree with them?  Obviously, my opinion leans towards the latter.  I hope you find something on this list that makes you want to ask questions, think for yourself and voice an opinion.  Nope.  You don’t have to agree with me.  I have a tween.  I’m used to eye rolls and disagreements.  But we also have some very lively discussions.

–SueBE

7 thoughts on “ALA’s Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2010

    1. I didn’t find specifics per book but the total number of challenges received in 2010 was 348. I got the number from this story in the ALA news. Of course, that doesn’t mean that all of the challenges involved these ten books either. Fortunately, we have the ALA to keep these books available to the readers who need them.

      –SueBE

      1. I found out the number. The number will be shocking. The ALA site says, “There have been dozens of attempts to remove And Tango Makes Three from school and public library shelves.”

        That is false. The actual number is, are you sitting down, 4. You may consider this breaking news as I have not previously published that information.

        The source of that number? The ALA OIF’s Bryan Campbell who said he created the list and had it in front of him when he spoke with me and I specifically asked him that question. Yes, I disclosed who I was, in case you are wondering. Bryan was very nice and very forthcoming.

        I was shocked. Almost 400 challenges that year and I just found out from Bryan #9 on the list was challenged twice. Twice! I assumed Tango must have been challenged a huge number of times and that there were a lot of “homophobes” out there. So I asked. 4! A measley 4! Not the hundreds I expected if #9 had 2 challenges. Not the “dozens” the ALA proclaimed. 4. Just 4.

        There’s no “homophobe” problem out there, at least based on the Tango incidents. Actually, there’s no problem at all with book challenges generally. A few challenges, just 4, for the top book on the most challenged list, indicates to anyone with an open mind that book challenges are not a problem. There will always be a few people complaining about this or that, so 4 challenges in a year for the top challenged book is a clear message that book challenges are not the ever present fear the ALA would ramp us up to believe it is, even if it has to flat out lie about the numbers. Especially since the ALA lied about the numbers.

        I know this is shocking. Let me back it up with further evidence. I attended a New Jersey Library Association conference weeks back where the author of challenged book #9 said the ALA told her other books had been challenged more often than hers, but since hers was removed and the issue was what it was, the ALA wanted to promote that issue.

        In other words, the ALA list is intentionally and deceptively false and is being used to promote a political agenda.

        FYI, here is the exact statement made by that author who revealed the ALA was promoting certain issues for political gain, and the 2 challenges were in the same community:

        The only other challenges that I’m aware of are are these two, and I talked to the ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom about it. I said oh my god I’m listed on [excitement unintelligable], and they said because this was such a big deal, and because the book was actually removed, whereas as many of these titles that get challenged, some get challenged but not removed, that that is how it made it onto the list for this year, so it’s the Burlington County cases that we’re aware of right now.

        SueBE, this is shocking, is it not? Why doesn’t the ALA just be honest and provide a truthful list? Why does it promote a political agenda having nothing to do with libraries? Why does it flat out lie to the public? As a former member of the ALA, I can say I am extremely disappointed. I fully expect the ALA will continue to skew the numbers on its list, year after year.

      2. Sorry for taking several days to respond,but I wanted to take the time necessary to gather and accurately present some statistics. What I learned did not surprise me but confirmed what I had suspected all along about the use of the statistics in the comment above.

        *ALA received reports of 4 formal challenges to “And Tango Makes Three” in 2010.
        *ALA has recorded dozens of challenges to “And Tango Makes Three” since its publication in 2005.
        *ALA has always acknowledged that our records are incomplete and reflect only those challenges that are reported, which we know is a small fraction of the challenges that actually occur. Recent research (http://librarianinblack.net/librarianinblack/2011/03/bookchallenges.html) and anecdotal evidence suggest that up to 80% of challenges are never reported to ALA.
        *Any challenge is a serious problem, as it reflects an attempt to remove or restrict access to potentially valuable information and ideas for all members of a community.
        *You can learn much more about challenge reporting and ALA’s lists of frequently challenged books at http://ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/frequentlychallenged/index.cfm

        Read the above very carefully. ALA has made no attempts to deceive anyone.

        Book banning is a serious problem because every book that is removed from the shelves of your public library is a book that you no longer have access to. Does this mean that every book is right for every child? No. But it does mean that the children for whom these books are right need to have access to them.

        Many book challenges do not go through ALA. Sometimes people challenge the use of a book in the classroom and go directly to their school board. Other times they go to local media. Or they steal or vandalize the book. Their agendas differ but what doesn’t differ is their attempt to limit access to information. Your access. My access. The access of the family who cannot afford books and has access only to what is in the public library.

        Every attempt to ban a book that does go through your library system means that the time of those librarians is being spent on that challenge. They aren’t encouraging children to read. They aren’t helping patrons find the books that they need. They are defending intellectual freedom. That’s important, but wouldn’t it be nice if they could be putting books into the hands of children?

        –SueBE

      3. That is an excellent report, SueBE. Thank you.

        Still, not listing the actually number as 4 and saying there were dozens of incidents is highly misleading, especially where almost 400 challenges are reported. Indeed, the Canadian equivalent of the ALA has an equivalent list, and the actual numbers are reported. The Tango book, for example, was challenged once in the latest list, if I recall correctly. Once all year in all of Canada. In 2006 it was challenged once too, and by a religious school. Having such information certainly differs from hearing about hundreds of challenges and dozens against Tango but not the actual number. Had the ALA simply said 4, there would be no misunderstandings.

        Let me ask you to look into the matter of the ALA telling the author that they jumped her book up higher in the list. You did not address that. That is the smoking gun. When you say, “ALA has made no attempts to deceive anyone,” that may simply need to be revised in light of what you find. I know she said the ALA pushed her book up the list, and I have a recording of her saying that so people can hear for themselves, but I’m looking to see what you find out about it. Please investigate that as well. The author involved said what I quoted. In addition, see her blog post on the matter at http://bannedlibrarian.wordpress.com/2011/04/19/2-pennies-amy-sonnie-on-alas-most-frequently-challenged-list/

        I spoke with the author for a good long time. She is a real sweetheart and very smart. I am 100% certain she will tell you the truth, although she may nibble around the edges of what you might ask–no problem, she’s just being a good advocate.

        So in asking you to investigate this, I am really asking you to speak with a sweet, smart author/librarian, and I am sure you will enjoy speaking with her as much as I did.

        And it’s perfectly okay to take a while to answer! There is a very good chance I will write about this incident on my blog and include parts of the discussion we are having here.

        Thanks again.

      4. Oh my, I checked out where you said, “*You can learn much more about challenge reporting and ALA’s lists of frequently challenged books at http://ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/frequentlychallenged/index.cfm” I found in the most recent document that the Amy Sonnie book was not even there, and the document generally did not actually provide much additional useful information, but it sure was prettier and filled with promotional material.

        And Tango Makes Three was there. I see only a single challenge to that.

        There is clearly a need for the ALA to be more forthcoming. People want the facts, not just what the ALA wants people to think about facts the ALA keeps to itself.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s