If you were to guess what the 10 most banned or challenged books in the US in 2013 were, you might guess 50 Shades of Grey for its class-consciousness tinged bondage romance; or John Green’s Looking for Alaska with its classic themes of coming of age and the required drugs and sexuality. And yes both those books are on the list, released today by the American LIbrary Association. But also on the list? Jeff Smith’s Bone series, which we’re told by the CBLDF, has been cited for “Political viewpoint, racism, violence.”
Racism? Is this that anti-Rat Creature party we’ve been hearing about? Or the Rockjaw Defense League?
While Bone is a bit of a shock to be on the list, the first one is also odd because it’s so clearly a kids book: Captain Underpants. I mean sure kids shouldn’t be exposed to underpants, unless they are being told to put on a clean pair because it’s Tuesday already, but…honestly don’t the censors of America have better things to do?
Here’s the complete Top Ten:
1) Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey (Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence.)
2) The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison (Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence.)
3) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie (Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group.)
4) Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James (Reasons: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group.)
5) The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins (Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group.)
6) A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl, by Tanya Lee Stone (Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit.)
7) Looking for Alaska, by John Green (Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group.)
8) The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky (Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group.)
9) Bless Me Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya (Reasons: Occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit.
10) Bone (series), by Jeff Smith (Reasons: Political viewpoint, racism, violence.)
According to the CBLDF,
This is Bone’s first appearance on ALA’s annual list of challenged books, but it isn’t the first time it’s run affoul of censors. In 2012, it was banned in Texas at Crestview Elementary and moved to the junior high library because it was deemed unsuited to the age group. In April of 2010, a Minnesota parentpetitioned for the series’ removal from her son’s school library, when she discovered images she believed to be promoting drinking and smoking. A letter from Smith decrying the ban attempt was read aloud at the committee’s hearing, and the challenge was ultimately rejected by a 10-1 vote, to the praise of Smith and CBLDF.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.