June 27 – August 31



bannedbooks2Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read is observed during the last week of September each year. Observed since 1982, the annual event reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted.

Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met.

We have chosen to feature banned books for the summer season in order to feature posters from past years which celebrated Banned Book Week. This exhibit also includes several books from the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–2000 list.

Why are Books Challenged?

bannedbooks15bannedbooks18Books usually are challenged with the best intentions—to protect others, frequently children, from difficult ideas and information.

According to the The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books, Challenges by Initiator, Institution, Type, and Year, the top three reasons, in order, for challenging material are the material is considered to be “sexually explicit” contain “offensive language,” and bannedbooks16bannedbooks17be “unsuited to age group.”






Who Challenges Books?

bannedbooks19bannedbooks22Throughout history, more and different kinds of people and groups of all persuasions than you might first suppose, who, for all sorts of reasons, have attempted—and continue to attempt—to suppress anything that conflicts with or anyone who disagrees with their own beliefs.

In his book Free Speech for Me—But Not for Thee: How the American Left and Right Relentlessly Censor Each Other, Nat Hentoff writes that “the lust to suppress can come from any direction.” He quotes Phil Kerby, a former editor of the Los Angeles Times, as saying, “Censorship is the strongest drive in human nature; sex is a weak second.”

bannedbooks20bannedbooks21According to the The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books, Challenges by Initiator, Institution, Type, and Year , parents challenge materials more often than any other group.





What’s the Difference between a Challenge and a Banning?
A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. The positive message of Banned Books Week: Free People Read Freely is that due to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens, most challenges are unsuccessful and most materials are retained in the school curriculum or library collection.













bannedbooks3 bannedbooks4Top Ten Challenged Authors
1990 to 2004
1. Alvin Schwartz
2. Judy Blume
3. Robert Cormier
4. J.K. Rowling
5. Michael Willhoite
6. Katherine Paterson
7. Stephen King
8. Maya Angelou
9. R.L. Stine
10. John Steinbeck





The Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2004
1. The Chocolate War for sexual content, offensive language, religious viewpoint, being unsuited to age group and violence
2. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers for racism, offensive language and violence

3. Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture by Michael A. Bellesiles for inaccuracy and political viewpoint

4. Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey for offensive language and modeling bad behavior

5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky for homosexuality, sexual content and offensive language

6. What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones for sexual content and offensive language
7. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak for nudity and offensive language

8. King & King by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland for homosexuality

9. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou for racism, homosexuality, sexual content, offensive language and unsuited to age group

10. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck for racism, offensive language and violence




100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990 – 2000

The information in this exhibit came from
American Library Association Banned Books Week

LOCATION: 3rd floor galleries
Curators: Jerrie Lee Parpart and Ruth Weston