The American Library Association maintains, on its website, lists of the most frequently challenged books. In 2008 there were 513 reported challenges. Not surprisingly, most of the books on the list are children's or young adult titles. The number 1 challenged book for the decade 1990-1999 was Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and others in the "Scary Stories" series by Alvin Schwartz [J 398.2 SCH]. Yes, this is the same book that almost every fourth grader in the U.S. reads at Halloween time! It's certainly shivery (but not at all scary if you compare it to what kids SEE on tv on a daily basis) and is often quite funny. Here are a few lines from a story called "The Big Toe"
A boy was digging at the edge of the garden when he saw a big toe. He tried to pick it up, but it was stuck to something. So he gave it a good hard jerk, and it came off in his hand. Then he heard something groan and scamper away.
The boy took the toe into the kitchen and showed it to his mother. "It looks nice and plump," she said. "I'll put it in the soup, and we'll have it for supper."
The stories in the book aren't original to Alvin Schwartz, they're from collections of American folklore. Schwartz tells the reader in his introduction, "Telling scary stories is something people have done for thousands of years, for most of us like being scared in that way. Since there isn't any danger, we think it is fun."
Adult books have their share of challenges, too. There's a list of "Banned and Challenged Classics" that was compiled using the Radcliffe Publishing Course's list of "Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century." Of the "top ten" books, the first nine have been challenged at least once, with several having had multiple challenges. How many of these have you read?
1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald [F FIT]
2. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger [F SAL]
3. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck [F STE]
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee [F LEE]
5. The Color Purple by Alice Walker [F WAL]
6. Ulysses by James Joyce [F JOY]
7. Beloved by Toni Morrison [F MOR]
8. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding [F GOL]
9. 1984 by George Orwell [F ORW]
Celebrate freedom--read a banned book!