The Great Gatsby, The Catcher in the Rye, The Grapes of Wrath, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Color Purple, Ulysses, Beloved, The Lord of the Flies, 1984, Of Mice and Men, Lolita, Catch-22, Brave New World, Animal Farm, The Sun Also Rises, As I Lay Dying, A Farewell to Arms, Gone With the Wind, Native Son...
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The Lord of the Rings, Lady Chatterley's Lover, In Cold Blood, Sophie's Choice, Brideshead Revisited, Rabbit Run...
The titles above represent some of the most frequently banned books across schools and libraries in the US. According to the American Library Association (ALA), there are three primary reasons a group of people may request that a certain book be banned and removed from libraries. They include:
1. the material included sexually explicit language
2. the material contained "offensive language"
3. the material is considered "unsuitable" for any age group
The list is surprisingly lengthy and fortunately, many of the bans have been challenged in the court system. But there are plenty of smaller schools who take the step of removing certain books and hardly anyone is aware of that fact. This week is "Banned Books Week," and I encourage you to find out if your local library or school has a process for banning certain books. Write letters and get involved. At the very least, go to your local book store this week and purchase at least one of the books. You can find the ALA list of frequently banned books here.
British philosopher John Stuart Mill wrote in the 1800s:
If all mankind, minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.