Top 10 Challenged Books of 2011

Today is the first day of banned books week, the national book community’s week long event advocating the right to read. Banned Books Week advocates the right to read and raises awareness about the harms of censorship and banning books. According to the Banned Books Week website, since 1982 over 11,300 books have been challenged.

I’ve really been looking forward to Banned Books Week for a while, so stay tuned! I’ll be reviewing some banned books, writing about censorship, and posting some of my favorite Virtual Readouts posted on the banned books week site. For now, here’s a list of the ten most challenged books in 2011. Have you read any on the list? I was definitely surprised by #10! It’s such a classic, I didn’t expect it to still be on the banned books list for 2011.

1: The Internet Girls series by Lauren Myracle
“Audacious author Lauren Myracle accomplishes something of a literary miracle in her second young-adult novel, ttyl (Internet instant messaging shorthand for “talk to you later”), as she crafts an epistolary novel entirely out of IM transcripts between three high-school girls.” (Goodreads)

Challenged for offensive language, religious viewpoints, being sexually explicit, and unsuited for the age group.

2: Color series by Kim Dong Hwa
“First love is never easy.  

Ehwa grows up helping her widowed mother run the local tavern, watching as their customers – both neighbors and strangers – look down on her mother for her single lifestyle.  Their social status isolates Ehwa and her mother from the rest of the people in their quiet country village.  But as she gets older and sees her mother fall in love again, Ehwa slowly begins to open up to the possibility of love in her life.” (Goodreads)

Challenged for nudity, sex education, being sexually explicit, and unsuited to the age group.

3: The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
“Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don’t live to see the morning? In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.” (Goodreads)

Challenged for being anti-ethnic, anti-family, insensitivity, offensive language, occult/satanic, and violence.

4: My Mom’s Having a Baby! A Kid’s Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy by Dori Hillestad Butler
“Elizabeth’s mom is having a baby, and the whole family is involved. Elizabeth learns all about the baby’s development, and she traces his growth, month by month.” (Goodreads)

Challenged for nudity, sex education, being sexually explicit and unsuited to the age group.

5: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
“The story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.” (Goodreads)

Challenged for: offensive language, racism, religious viewpoints, being sexually explicit and unsuited to the age group.

6: Alice series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
“Alice McKinley is about to become a teenager, but she doesn’t know how. Her mother has been dead for years, and what do her father and her nineteen-year-old brother, Lester, know about being a teenage girl? If only she had a role model, like the beautiful sixth-grade teacher Miss Cole. But instead Alice gets assigned to plain, pear-shaped Mrs. Plotkin’s class. Is Alice doomed to a life of one embarrassment after another?” (Goodreads)

Challenged for nudity, offensive language, and religious viewpoints.

7: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
“Far in the future, the World Controllers have finally created the ideal society. In laboratories worldwide, genetic science has brought the human race to perfection… But, in the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre, Bernard Marx is unhappy. Harbouring an unnatural desire for solitude, feeling only distaste for the endless pleasures of compulsory promiscuity, Bernard has an ill-defined longing to break free. A visit to one of the few remaining Savage Reservations where the old, imperfect life still continues, may be the cure for his distress…” (Goodreads)

Challenged for insensitivity, nudity, racism, religious viewpoints, and being sexually explicit.

8: What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones
“My name is Sophie.
This book is about me.
It tells 
the heart-stoppingly riveting story 
of my first love.
And also of my second.
And, okay, my third love, too.” (Goodreads)

Challenged for nudity, offensive language, and being sexually explicit.

9: Gossip Girl series by Cecily Von Ziegesar
“Welcome to New York City’s Upper East Side, where my friends and I live, go to school, play, and sleep–sometimes with each other. 

S is back from boarding school, and if we aren’t careful, she’s going to win over our teachers, wear that dress we couldn’t fit into, steal our boyfriends’ hearts, and basically ruin our lives in a major way. I’ll be watching closely…” (Goodreads)

Challenged for drugs, offensive language, and being sexually explicit.

10: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
“The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.” (Goodreads)

Challenged for offensive language and racism.

(For a more extensive list, check out ALA’s top 100 banned/challenged books of the last decade.)

9 thoughts on “Top 10 Challenged Books of 2011

  1. Well, some of those books I’m genuinely shocked about. Gossip Girls? Really? And what does sexually explicit entail? A descriptive make-out session? Because I know young adults that were reading romance novels at that age too.


    1. That’s a very good question! And a lot of them surprised me, especially when reading through the longer list. I mean, the Lord of the Rings is on it! C’mon, people! Make better decisions with your life!


    2. I really want to know why “My Mom’s Having a Baby!” is challenged. I mean, does it show how a baby is conceived in detail? That would the only reason I could think of to challenge a book like this! It seems like a great way to introduce children to the idea of siblings and help them understand what their mother is going through.


    3. Yeah, I was blown away by that one. I think the only ones I really understood as “challengeable” would be the dystopian books such as Brave New World and Hunger Games. Mainly because that seems like something to challenge…


    4. Yeah, I can definitely see for both of those why parents would challenge them. When I started working on posts for this week, I thought, “You know, I’d be surprised if the Hunger Games hasn’t been contested somewhere.”


    5. People are too overprotective of what their YOUNG ADULTS read. They’re young adults for a reason… and have probably already been exposed to those very things they try to protect them from. And then ON TOP OF THAT. It’s as if they don’t want Young Adults to make up their own minds about stuff.



    And Hunger Games? Seriously? It’s a bad book, but…seriously? o.O

    I’m curious to try all these books. And after seeing your review on Crank, I think I’ll start with that.

    Have you read ‘Junk’? That’s about drugs too. It’s pretty good.


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