Blogger Intellectual Freedom Committee

Why was THAT challenged?

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?

Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George was challenged because:
A.  Unsuited to age group
B.  Violence
C.  Both of the above

Captain Underpants (series) by Dav Pilkey was challenged because:
A.  Anti-family content
B.  Unsuited to age group
C.  Violence
D.  All of the above

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins was challenged because:
A.  Anti-family
B.  Insensitivity
C.  Offensive Language
D.  Violence
E.  All of the above

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson was challenged due to:
A.  Occult
B.  Satanism
C.  Offensive language
D.  All of the above

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell was challenged because:
A.  Homosexuality
B.  Sexism
C.  Unsuited to age group
D.  All of the above

Scary Stories
(series) by Alvin Schwartz was challenged due to:
A.  Religious viewpoint
B.  Occult/Satanism
C.  Violence
D.  All of the above

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

One comment

  1. Jennifer

    We’ve never had a “conventional” challenge at my library, but we did have a serious challenge over Thrasher magazine (it eventually blew over, but it’s a sensitive topic for me still). I also had a parent mark all of the bare breasts in Sandman. Didn’t want it pulled, just wanted me to “know”. I agreed that it probably wasn’t appropriate for his fifteen year old daughter and when we eventually got an adult graphic novel collection it was moved. I had a parent whisper to me in horrified tones that Chi’s Sweet Home contained “bad words” (“piss” in case you’re wondering) but nothing ever came of that. I just told her different cultures have different standards and I could find some other cute cat books for her kids (I did NOT tell her what “Chi” means). Someone did fill out a form for the movie Whale Talker the other day – said it wasn’t appropriate for her seven year old. I would agree, hence the PG-13 rating. I think it was moved to adult, but since it’s based on an adult book that was fine with me. Some parents expect the children’s movies to be nothing more than Thomas and Disney and I have been very firm about including materials for up to 12 years old, as well as family films, but that one was borderline and could have gone either way.

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