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Challenged Children’s Books

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The titles on the lists linked to above were taken from two sources, the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and the American Library Association’s (ALA) lists of most frequently challenged books. Titles were divided into three reading levels: picture books, children’s books (including early readers & chapter books), and young adult books. Books were grouped into a particular level based on their NoveList classification. In those few cases where books did not appear in NoveList, level was determined by checking Amazon. Likewise, most synopses were taken from NoveList or, when unavailable, the notes field of OCLC WorldCat records.

For more information on censorship, a longer list of books that have been challenged, and rationales in defense of challenged books, check NCTE’s Intellectual Freedom Center. In addition, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) collects information about which comic books and graphic novels are challenged.

ALA’s site has information about frequently challenged books, Banned Books Weeks, and a link to statistical graphs of known challenges divided by initiator, institution, type of challenge, and year. There are also links to infographics that are free to download, displaying book challenge information in accessible images. ALA’s Freedom to Read Foundation site may also be useful.

ALA’s Challenge Support site walks readers through how to respond to a challenge, the reconsideration process, reporting a challenge, and more. It also provides a toolkit for libraries working to create or update their selection and reconsideration policies. Similarly, the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) has a Book Censorship Action Kit for fighting challenges to books in schools that is aimed at students, educators, parents, and authors.

For more information, check the following print sources:

  • Bily, Cynthia A. Banned Books, 2012. (online resource) Explores the issues surrounding banned books by placing opinions from a wide range of sources in a pro/con format. Features articles that express various perspectives on this topic.
  •  Doyle, Robert P. Banned Books: Challenging Our Freedom to Read, 2017. (Z658.U6 D69, SSHEL Stacks) Provides a framework for understanding censorship and the protections guaranteed to us through the first amendment. Interpretations of the uniquely American notion of freedom of expression — and our freedom to read what we choose — are supplemented by straightforward, easily accessible information that will inspire further exploration.
  • Becker, Beverly C. Hit List For Children 2: Frequently Challenged Books, 2002. (S.323.445 Am35hch, S-Collection Reference) The Hit List series is a select listing of frequently challenged books compiled by the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom. Entries include a summary of the book, a listing of and rationale for challenges, awards and prizes won, and a bibliography of reviews. This title is also accessible online in full text through the online catalog.
  • Lesesne, Teri S. Hit List For Young Adults 2: Frequently Challenged Books, 2002. (S.323.445 Am35hyou, S-Collection Reference) See description above. This title is also accessible online in full text through the online catalog.
  • Foerstel, Herbert. Banned in the USA: A Reference Guide to Censorship in School and Public Libraries (025.213 F685b2002, Main Stacks). Rev. and Expanded Ed. Greenwood Press, 2002. See chapter 2 (pp. 73-126).
  • Laine, Carolee. Book Banning and Other Forms of Censorship, 2017. (S.363.31 L143, S-Collection) The flow of information through our modern digital world has led to many new issues and controversies. This book examines how and why schools, special-interest groups, and governments attempt to suppress information in print and online.
  • Scales, Pat R. Books Under Fire: A Hit List of Banned and Challenged Children’s Books, 2015 (S.323.445 Am35b, S-Collection Reference) Resource to support librarians and teachers in dealing with book challenges; also gives suggestions on how to discuss with young readers the social issues often at the heart of book challenges. Each featured challenged book includes a plot summary and review, details of challenges, list of awards, and further reading and online resources. Includes an index and six appendices with information on the first amendment, book censorship, the top 100 most banned or challenged books from 2000-2009, banned children’s classics, challenged Caldecott medal books, and challenged Newbery medal books.