Recently I posted a story about a girl who started a secret library of banned books. The location of her library was a locker at her school. The article talks about a list of banned books that the girl found and she turned it into her own personal reading list.
That got me thinking about banned books. I did a Google search for “list of banned books”. The search returned over 25 Million results. I found Canada’s Freedom to Read site, which led to the “Challenged books and magazines list” that is released by the Canadian Library Association.
They don’t use the word “banned”, but that’s essentially what they mean. The association maintains a list of books that are prohibited by organizations and community groups. Any organization, group or institution can come up with a list of books they prohibit their members from reading. Whether or not the ban is actually upheld is a different issue entirely.
Because of the number of requests that come forward to ban reading materials, the produces Canadian Library Association a list of books that are challenged in any given year, if for no other reason than to raise awareness about censorship.
For example, in 2010 in Canada, 74 titles were “officially challenged” by different organizations including:
- Bateman, Colin. Murphy’s Law.
- Canfield, Jack, et al. Chicken Soup for the Unsinkable Soul.
- Lucas, George, Hisao Tamaki and David Land. Star Wars: A New Hope
- Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter (7 books in series).
- Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
This is only a sampling of the 74 titles that were officially challenged in 2010.
The site also points out that “Censorship studies usually show that most library challenges go unreported and undocumented.”
It’s hard to say what books have been banned (either officially or unofficially and quietly) by school boards across the country.
But for those of you with that same rebellious reading streak that I have, here’s a little gem I think you’ll like: The University of Pennsylvania maintains a list of banned books that are freely available online.
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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.