You might wonder, does anyone really try to censor what we can read? Yes! In the last decade, there have been more than 5000 “challenges” to remove material from the shelves of school and public libraries in the U.S. There have been 275 challenges over the past year.
Most challenges are well-intentioned–filed because content is perceived to be sexually explicit, offensive, or inappropriate for an intended audience. However, materials are also challenged for political or religious reasons. Even books that we consider to be part of the literary canon have been challenged!
Librarians are committed to intellectual freedom and access to information. We have a “special obligation to ensure the free flow of information and ideas to present and future generations.” Freedom to read is at the core of our democracy.
Celebrate Banned Books Week by visiting your library (in person or online) and finding something you are interested in learning about. Or check out any of the frequently challenged books below from Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels of the 20th Century. Here are the top five: