‘Captain Underpants’ tops list of most challenged books
(CNN) — Dav Pilkey’s “Captain Underpants” series was the most challenged book of 2013 for the second year in a row, according to the American Library Association.
Pilkey, author of the illustrated adventures of two fourth-grade pranksters, was one of eight repeat authors on the list of most frequently challenged books in schools and libraries in 2013.
Each year, the association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom compiles a list of the top 10 most frequently challenged books as part of Banned Books Week, which runs from September 21 to September 27. The goal of Banned Books Week is to celebrate the freedom to read and highlight the pitfalls of censorship.
A challenge is defined as “a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness,” according to the American Library Association. The number of challenges only reflects incidents reported, and the organization estimates that for every reported challenge, four or five go unreported.
The annual event started in 1982, the same year the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that students’ First Amendment rights were violated when Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five” and eight other books were removed from school libraries.
Despite the legal precedent, schools and libraries still receive formal challenges to remove books from library shelves or nix them from reading lists to protect children from material that some see as inappropriate.
“Offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence” were cited as the reasons behind the challenges to the “Captain Underpants” series. These were the ten most-challenged books the association listed for 2013:
Out of 307 challenges as reported by the Office for Intellectual Freedom
- Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence
- The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
- Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James
Reasons: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
- The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group
- A Bad Boy Can Be Good for A Girl, by Tanya Lee Stone
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit
- Looking for Alaska, by John Green
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
- Bless Me Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
Reasons: Occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
- Bone (series), by Jeff Smith
Reasons: Political viewpoint, racism, violence