Early in my professional career, I encountered one of our Library books which had been mutilated. The book was the Caldecott Award winner In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak. Mickey had fallen out of his clothes and someone had taken the time to carefully draw blue pants on him throughout the remainder of the book.
Not too surprisingly, some people around the country had taken a different approach and formally challenged this book because they too felt the nudity was not appropriate not only for their own children but also for other people’s children.
There are many other books for young people which have been challenged for a wide variety of reasons. Do you know why the following books were challenged at libraries or schools around the country?
According to ALA’s “Frequently challenged books of the 21st century” page, the correct answer for each of the above questions is “All of the above.”
And why is this important?
As spelled out in the Library Bill of Rights, we need to continually and proactively work to make sure materials are available for any of our customers who want them. It is up to individual readers — or the parents of minor children — to decide what to read.
What do you think? How many of these challenged books have you read? Do you think it’s important to stay aware of books that are challenged? How do you work to make sure these and other challenged books are available for your customers? Share your stories in the comments below.
Mary R. Voors
ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee member