In celebration of Banned Books Week, observed this year from Sept. 25 through Oct. 2, the American Library Association has released a list of books challenged or banned in 2009. This year's list includes a particularly scandalous volume, the Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary, challenged at a Menifee, Calif. school for inclusion of the term "oral sex." According to the ALA, the book was pulled in response to the challenge, and the school district is considering a permanent classroom ban.
In addition to the dictionary, the list includes "A Prayer for Owen Meany," by John Irving (at a Pelham, Mass. school, for language and sexuality), "Anne Frank: DIary of a Young Girl," by Anne Frank ( at a Culpeper County, Va. school, for sexual material and homosexual themes); "The Bean Trees," by Barbara Kingsolver (at a Saugus, Calif. school, for sexual scenes and vulgar language); and "Song of Soloom," by Toni Morrison (at a Shelby, Mich. school, for objectionable content).
Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to an increase in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. Sex, profanity, and racism are still the primary categories of objections, and most complaints do not represent requests to ban the books, but to remove materials or make them inaccessible to certain grade levels.
The most challenged titles of 2009 included "To Kill a Mockingbird," by Harper Lee; the "Twilight" series, by Stephanie Meyer.; and "Catcher in the Rye," by J.D. Salinger.
The ALA encourages readers to check out challenged titles personally. To view the whole list, visit www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/bannedbooksweek/
Juneau Empire ©2013. All Rights Reserved.