The Alice series includes 28 books, written by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, that capture the life of Alice McKinley from third grade through adulthood. Coverage of this great span of time allows for many experiences including death, school, family and friend relationships, spirituality, and other life experiences.
According to a 2004 ALA press release, the Alice series has been challenged in the past for its sexual content, offensive language, and being unsuited to its intended young-adult age group. The 2011 list provides reasons of nudity, offensive language, and providing a religious viewpoint.
Aldous Huxley published his novel Brave New World in 1932. Set in London during AD 2540, the novel has a futuristic plot that tells of developments in reproductive technology and sleep-learning that produce a world much deviated from current societal norms of families, romantic relationships, as well as natural birth and death.
This plot invites many critics. The majority of challenges in 2011 were due to insensitivity, nudity, racism, religious viewpoint, and being sexually explicit.
The Gossip Girl series includes 13 young adult novels written by Cecily von Ziegesar. The first novel, titled Gossip Girl, was published in 2002 and later became the basis for the television series. The plot revolves around the romantic and other personal relationships of two high school girls attending an elite private high school in New York City.
Reasons for challenges in 2011 include drugs, offensive language, and sexual explicitness.
Written by Dori Hillestad Butler and illustrated by Carol Thompson, My Mom’s Having a Baby is a children’s book that spares no detail describing how babies are made from conception through birth.
This book has been challenged for reasons of nudity, sex education, being sexually explicit, and being unsuited to age group. Amazon.com reviews as well as editorial reviews from Booklist and School Library Journal illustrate the debate about whether or not the information and pictures are too informative for children.
1 Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2011,” American Library Association, accessed April 16, 2012.
2 “My Mom’s Having a Baby!: A Kid’s Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy,” Amazon, accessed April 16, 2012.
Not a stranger to controversy over his writing, Sherman Alexie has made the ALA’s “Top 10 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2011” list with his first young adult book titled The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.
Straight from Amazon.com, this book is based on Alexie ‘s own experiences but is told through the character Junior. Junior lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation. He leaves his school there to attend a nearby all-white high school and to pave a successful path for himself and his art.
Challenges were made due to offensive language, racism, providing a religious viewpoint, being sexually explicit, and being unsuited to age group.
The Color of Earth series is a “coming of age” story written in manga style by Kim Dong Hwa. The main character Ehwa helps her widowed mother with running a local bar. The rest of the village looks down upon Ehwa’s mother and talks poorly behind her back. As outcasts, Ehwa and her mother rely on each other. The series explores this relationship as well as Ehwa’s life growing-up and the path she takes towards finding love.
The series made ALA’s “Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2011” list for nudity, sex education, being sexually explicit, and being unsuited to age group.
The Hunger Games, written by Suzanne Collins, has received a lot of praise as well as some criticism. The novels take place in a futuristic world where the United States is replaces by Panem, comprised of thirteen districts and a Capitol city.
Each district enters its youth 12-18 in a drawing to participate in the annual Hunger Games. A boy and girl from each district are chosen to battle each other to the death with only one winner. The Hunger Games started as retribution for the districts’ revolt against the Capitol and continue as a reminder to not revolt again.
The series has been challenged for reasons of being anti-ethnic and anti-family, insensitive, having offensive language, being occult and satanic, and being overtly violent.
Harper Lee won a Pulitzer Prize for her novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Originally published in 1960, Lee’s novel is considered a classic. It illustrates American culture in the mid 1930’s South through the eyes of a young girl named Scout Finch. The novel addresses mostly racism but other topics relative to culture such as gender roles and societal rank or class.
To Kill a Mockingbird made the ALA’s “Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books 2011” for offensive language and racism.
Lauren Myracle chronicles the fictitious lives of three 16-year-old girls in her ttyl series. These novels are told entirely as instant text messages. The typical teenage life experiences occur, such as crushes and romances, peer conflicts, alcohol, parental strife, etc. Some find it entertaining while others find it offensive and inaccurate.
Regardless, the novel made the ALA’s “Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2011” list for reasons of offensive language, religious viewpoint, being sexually explicit, and being unsuited to age group.
What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones,is a novel-length narrative poetry called a verse novel. It has appeared on the American Library Association’s 2004, 2005, and 2011 top 10 lists for most frequently challenged books.
The novel captures the romantic relationships, friendships, and general life of high school freshman Sophie Stein.
Reasons for the challenges are due to nudity, offensive language, and sexually explicit content. A specific 2003 banning incident, reported by the ALA, occurred in the Rosendale Union School District in Bakersfield, California.
2 >“Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2011,” American Library Association, accessed April 16, 2012.