The Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2010

The American Library Association has tallied up the number of challenges made at libraries across the country in 2010, and, for the first time, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is among the top ten most challenged books. It comes in at number five on the list, and the reasons given by those who want the book banned include: sexually explicit (?!!), unsuited to age group, and violence. Collins herself isn’t too surprised by concerns about the violence. According to the Associated Press, she said:

“I’ve read in passing that people were concerned about the level of violence in the books,” Collins said of her dystopian trilogy that’s sold more than a million copies. “That’s not unreasonable. They are violent. It’s a war trilogy.

Number one on the list is the children’s picture book And Tango Makes Three. A popular target of book banners, it’s about two male penguins raising a baby penguin. The book is based on the true story of two penguins at New York’s Central Park Zoo.

Here’s the full list of 2010’s most frequently challenged books:

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, and 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

The ALA recorded 348 challenges in 2010. However, for every challenge reported, they estimate 4 or 5 go unreported. The define a challenge as an effort “to remove or restrict materials from school curricula and library bookshelves.”

Are you surprised by any of the books on this year’s list? I think The Hunger Games was bound to make the list sooner or later, and I can totally understand why a parent would feel the book is too violent for their child. What I can’t understand is why someone wouldn’t just stop at preventing his/her own child from reading it. Why demand the book be banned from the library? By removing it from the library, they are preventing other people’s children from accessing the book. Why do they think they have to right to decide what everyone else’s children should or shouldn’t read? I’ll never understand that mindset. Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Follow me on Twitter @kristendaemons

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  • Michelle StJames

    I’ve only read five of these books. I’d better get going on the rest. :)

    • Sandie

      Yes, I love how this totally has the opposite effect by encouraging you to read those books. I feel the same way :)

  • Sandie

    I agree with you Kristen. If you don’t want your kids to read or be exposed to some books fine, but how can you decide what other people should be reading or what their kids should be reading?

    That actually makes me wonder if any of these challenges ever actually work. Have any of these books been pulled from some libraries?

    • Michelle StJames

      They were when I was a kid. I grew up in a small town in New Hampshire and every year there were battles between the school librarians and the school board and the town librarians and the town. The librarians, sadly, always lost. They even pulled “A Wrinkle in Time,” probably my all-time favorite book as a kid, one year because of its political themes. Horrible. Thank God I have parents who wanted me to read anything and everything.

      • Sandie

        Wow, I never had to deal with anything like that.

  • Silverhanael

    I’ve worked in libraries most of my adult life and I am still surprised by people who believe they have to choose what is okay and what is not okay for someone else to read. Yes, as parents they have some rights over what -their- children may or may not read (although that may backfire on them), but I shall never, ever believe they have the right to remove that choice for -anyone- else.

  • libraryann

    What fascinates me about most people who challenge books is that they truly believe they are coming from a good place. A place dedicated to protecting children, protecting the culture. I by no means agree with dictating what anyone else should read (although I am a librarian so I do try to tell you what to read all the time…), i can see that there are good (if misguided) intentions at work in a lot of the folks who raise concerns about literature. They are worried. Worried about exposing their children to something that goes against their beliefs. Worried about the state of a nation that is rapidly changing and it scares them. That being said, I will fight fight fight to keep books on the shelves and try to educate educate educate those folks about intellectual freedom.

    Of course there are folks who are not in that group and are just mean-spirited/close minded/control freaks but I don’t waste my time giving them much thought – I just fight them with the same above mentioned fervor.

    Read on!

    • Michelle StJames

      I think you’re right that most of the people who challenge books come from a good place. They certainly did in the town where I grew up. Of course, that fact made it that much harder to fight them, as I recall.

  • SafeLibraries

    How many times was the #1 book challenged?  How many times was the #9 book challenged?

  • Kelly

    I love this post.  I agree with you as well, Kristen, why do parents feel the need to pull the book away from EVERYONE instead of just watching what their children read?  It’s a huge pet peeve of mine. 

    • Anonymous

      Thanks, Kelly! Happy Banned Books Week!