Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games are among the top 100 best-selling books of the decade, but they also rank on a not-so-favorable list, banned books.
Titles that have been challenged through the years range from book-to-movie favorites like The Great Gatsby and Perks of being a Wallflower to classics like The Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird.
“A lot don’t get to the banned stage, a lot will get challenged and the main reason is language, violence, sexual scenes, pretty much the language especially in younger books,” said Alison Colman, Teen Services Librarian at the 95th Street Library.
A book can be challenged by anyone, but are most commonly disputed by parents. A full ban can be enacted on a national or local level, usually at school libraries rather than public libraries but generally have an adverse affect because it creates an interest in the book.
According to the American Library Association, books are usually challenged with the best intentions to protect others, frequently children, from difficult ideas and information. However, they emphasize that restrictions on free thought and free speech can be dangerous.
“It gives them the freedom to read and I think that’s really important because they might internally be dealing with something that they didn’t tell their parents about and that’s why they want to read a book because it talks about that issue,” said Colman. “The main character is dealing with the same issue as them, so I think that’s definitely important for them to experience it on their own.”
Since 1982, Banned Books Week has united the entire book community by calling attention to the harms of censorship and showing their support of the freedom to read. While some books might be considered controversial, most stories have values worth sharing.
“You know how to be decent to people, how to be polite, I know to kill a mockingbird addresses all of that and I could see why some parents or teachers would want to ban these books because they have mature content but I think if the student is old enough and mature enough it will help shape them in the future,” said Mary Rogers, the Multi Media Associate at the 95th Street Library.
The Naperville Public Library does not ban any books; in fact they have the number one challenged series on their shelf, Captain Underpants.