Books Challenged or Banned in 2014-2015, by Robert P. Doyle

This bibliography represents books challenged, restricted, removed, or banned in 2014 and 2015 as reported in the Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom from May 2014 to March 2015 and in American Libraries Direct (AL Direct), by Robert P. Doyle.

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Alexie, Sherman

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Thorndike Press; Little, Brown

Pulled from the Meridian, Idaho, high school supplemental reading list (2014) after some parents complained that the novel “discusses masturbation, contains profanity, and has been viewed as anti-Christian.” School board members rejected a committee recommendation that the book should stay on the tenth-grade English supplemental reading list with parental permission required. Challenged at the Cedar Grove Middle School in Wilmington, N.C., (2014) because “the book contains numerous depictions of sexual behavior, as well as instances of racism, vulgar language, bullying, and violence.” Attached to the complaint was a petition signed by 42 members of the complainant’s church, Soldier Bay Baptist. The complainant is not the parent or grandparent of a child at Cedar Grove. District policy states that parents or guardians who do not approve of school reading materials may request alternative texts. Suspended from the Highland Park, Tex., Independent School District’s approved book list (2014) by the school superintendent. The decision sparked a backlash and drew national attention. The superintendent then reinstated the book. In February 2015, the school district trustees approved policy changes on how the district selects books and handles parents’ objections. The challenged contemporary young adult book is a National Book Award winner. It tells the story of a teenager who grows up on the Spokane Indian Reservation but leaves to attend an all-white high school in a farm town. The book has strong language, including racial slurs.

Source: Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, May 2014, pp. 80-81; July-Sept. 2014, p. 119; Nov. 2014, pp. 162, 174-76; March 2015, p. 47.


Cast, P. C., and Kristin Cast

The House of Night series

St. Martin’s Press

Challenged at the Austin Memorial Library in Cleveland, Tex. (2014), along with other young adult books that have a vampire theme. A local minister requested that the “occultic (sic) and demonic room be shut down, and these books be purged from the shelves, and that public funds would no longer be used to purchase such material, or at least require parents to check them out for their children.”

Source: AL Direct, August 27, 2014.


Crutcher, Chris

Chinese Handcuffs

Greenwillow Press

Challenged, but retained in the Waukesha, Wis., West High School library (2014) despite concerns about “extreme violence.” A 1990 ALA Best Books for Young Adults, the novel addresses issues of suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, and sexual abuse including gang rape.

Source: Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, Nov. 2014, pp. 171-72.


Danforth, Emily M.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Balzer + Bray

Removed from the Cape Henlopen school district’s summer reading list in Lewes, Del. (2014), due to language deemed inappropriate for entering high school freshmen. The book is set in rural Montana in the early 1990s. The parents of the main character, a teenage girl named Cameron Post, die in a car accident before finding out she’s gay. Orphaned, the girl moves in with her old-fashioned grandmother and ultraconservative aunt; she falls in love with her best friend—a girl. Selected for the 2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults list by the Young Adult Library Services Association, the list includes recommended books for ages 12-18 that meet “the criteria of both good quality literature and appealing reading for teens.”

Source: Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, July-Sept. 2014, pp. 118-19.


DeClements, Barthe

Sixth Grade Can Really Kill You

Viking Kestrel

Challenged by a parent in Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan, Minn., elementary school libraries (2014) because it uses the “r-word” (retarded) to refer to students with special needs.

Source: Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, May 2014, p. 79.


Doctorow, Cory

Little Brother

Tom Doherty Associates

Cancelled as the approved reading assignment in the Pensacola, Fla. (2014), One School/One Book summer reading program by a high school principal because it promoted hacker culture. The principal “made it clear that the book was being challenged because of its politics and its content.” In response Doctorow and his publisher sent 200 complimentary copies of the book directly to students at the school.

Source: Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, July-Sept. 2014, p. 119.

 


Geisel, Theodor Seuss

Hop on Pop: The Simplest Seuss for Youngest Use

Random House

Challenged, but retained at the Toronto, Canada, Public Library (2014) despite a patron’s concern that the book “encourages children to use violence against their fathers.” The patron requested that the library apologize to local fathers and pay damages resulting from the book’s message. Written in 1963, the classic children’s picture book ranked sixteenth on Publishers Weekly's 2001 list of the all-time best-selling hardcover books for children. Based on a 2007 online poll, the National Education Association named the book one of its “Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children.”

Source: AL Direct, April 30, 2014.


Geisel, Theodor Seuss

If I Ran the Zoo

Random House

Challenged, but retained at the Vancouver, Canada, Public Library (2014) despite a line in the poem about helpers who “all wear their eyes at a slant,” accompanied by illustrations that are racial stereotypes of Asians. The book is often credited with the first printed modern English use of the word “nerd” in a sentence. The library will no longer read it at storytime or promote it other than as resource material in a study of how the portrayal of other cultures has changed over time.

Source: AL Direct, May 14, 2014.


Green, John

An Abundance of Katherines

Dutton Books

Suspended from the Highland Park, Tex., Independent School District’s approved book list (2014) by the school superintendent. The decision sparked a backlash and drew national attention. The superintendent then reinstated the book. In February 2015, the school district trustees approved policy changes on how the district selects books and handles parents’ objections. The challenged contemporary young adult book is about a boy who has dated and been dumped by multiple girls named Katherine; it includes sexual references.

Source: Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, Nov. 2014, pp. 162, 174-76; March 2015, p. 47.


Green, John

The Fault in Our Stars

Dutton Books

Pulled from library shelves at the Frank Augustus Miller Middle School in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. (2014), because the subject matter involves teens dying of cancer who use crude language and have sex. Removed from the Riverside, Calif., Unified School District middle schools (2014) after a parent complained the teen love story was inappropriate for that age group. The New York Times best seller was released in June 2014 as a PG-13 movie. In 2014 Green was included in Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Source: Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, Nov. 2014, p. 159; AL Direct, Sept. 24, 2014.


Green, John

Looking for Alaska

Dutton Books

Challenged, but retained in the Waukesha, Wis., South High School (2014) despite claims the book is “too racy to read.” Awarded the 2006 Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature, this coming-of-age story traces the journey of Miles Halter, a misfit Florida teenager who leaves the safety of home for a boarding school in Alabama and a chance to explore the “Great Perhaps.”

Source: Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, Nov. 2014, pp. 171-72.


Green, John

Paper Towns

Dutton Books

Removed from the eighth-grade reading list at Dr. John Long Middle School in Wesley Chapel, Fla. (2014), after a parent complained that the book contained F-bombs, several discussions about teen sex, and references to girls as “honey bunnies,” which the parent considered misogynistic. The young adult book was a New York Times best seller, received the 2009 American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults award, received the 2009 Edgar Award for best young-adult novel, and is to be released as a film in July 2015.

Source: AL Direct, June 24, 2014.


Haddon, Mark

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Doubleday

Banned from the ninth-grade honors-level English reading list in the Wilson County, Tenn., schools (2014) due to offensive language. The book was removed from libraries and the possession of students soon after. The decision was later rescinded on the advice of the school board attorney due to possible conflict with a board policy. The award-winning book is about a 15-year-old autistic child who investigates the death of a neighbor’s dog.

Source: Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, May 2014, pp. 81-82; Nov. 2014, p. 134.


Harris, Robie H.

It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex & Sexual Health

Candlewick Press

Challenged as an e-book at the Francis Howell middle school libraries in St. Charles, Mo. (2014), because of cartoon nudity.

Source: Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, May 2014, pp. 79-80.

 

 


Harris, Robie H.

Who’s in My Family?: All About Our Families (Let’s Talk About You and Me)

Candlewick Press

One of three books about gay couples withdrawn from libraries in Singapore (2014), where gay sex is illegal. In a statement, the National Library Board suggested that gayness and family values are incompatible. The book is about a journey to the zoo with Nellie, Gus, and their family, where they learn about where people live, what they eat, their habits and hobbies, and how their families are composed, including references to single parents and same-sex couples. Copies of the book will be pulped. In a statement, the National Library Board suggested that gayness and family values are incompatible. Copies of the book will be pulped. It was announced later that authorities in Singapore reversed their decision and stopped the national library from destroying the children’s books, after its decision in July produced a public outcry over literary censorship. Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim ordered that the books be moved to the adult section, where parents can borrow them for their children.

Source: Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, July-Sept. 2014, 119-20.


Hergé [Georges Remi]

Tintin in America

French & European Publications

Pulled by the Winnipeg, Canada Public Library (2015) pending review due to stereotypical and racist depictions of indigenous peoples.

Source: AL Direct, March 19, 2015.

 

 

 


Hesse, Hermann

Siddhartha

Bantam Classics

Suspended from the Highland Park, Tex., Independent School District’s approved book list (2014) by the school superintendent. The decision sparked a backlash and drew national attention. The superintendent then reinstated the book. In February 2015, the school district trustees approved policy changes on how the district selects books and handles parents’ objections. This classic novel, written in 1922, is about the spiritual journey of a man living in the time of Buddha. In the book, the main character fathers a child out of wedlock and has sexual encounters with prostitutes. The novel is on the College Board’s reading list for Advanced Placement English Literature.

Source: Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, Nov. 2014, pp. 162, 174-76; March 2015, p. 47.


Hopkins, Ellen

Identical

Simon & Schuster

Challenged in the Appoquinimink School District in Middletown, Del. (2014). A parent complained about the young adult book and then began circulating a petition to require the school district to adopt a process for ensuring that all material was age appropriate. The New York Times best seller deals with the story of a child who was sexually abused by her father.

Source: Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, Jan. 2015, p. 7.


Hosseini, Khaled

The Kite Runner

Bloomsbury

Challenged, but retained as part of the Waukesha, Wis., West High School curriculum (2014) despite claims the book “desensitizes students to violence.” The New York Times best seller is set against a backdrop of tumultuous events, from the fall of Afghanistan's monarchy through the Soviet military intervention, the exodus of refugees to Pakistan and the United States, and the rise of the Taliban regime. A number of adaptations were created following publication, including several stage performances and a graphic novel. The film of the same name was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Literature Film in 2007.

Source: Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, Nov. 2014, pp. 171-72. 


Huxley, Aldous

Brave New World

Harper

Challenged in an Advanced Placement language composition class at Cape Henlopen High School in Lewes, Del. (2014). Two school board members contend that while the book has long been a staple in high school classrooms, students can now grasp the sexual and drug-related references through a quick Internet search.

Source: Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, May 2014, p. 80.

 


Levithan, David

Two Boys Kissing

Alfred A. Knopf

Challenged by a parent in the Fauquier County, Va., public high school library (2014). The book tells the story of Harry and Craig, two 17-year-olds who are about to take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record—all of which is narrated by a Greek chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS.

Source: Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, May 2014, p. 80.


Meyer, Stephanie

Twilight series

Little, Brown and Company

Challenged at the Austin Memorial Library in Cleveland, Tex. (2014), along with other young adult books that have a vampire theme. A local minister requested that the, “occultic (sic) and demonic room be shut down, and these books be purged from the shelves, and that public funds would no longer be used to purchase such material, or at least require parents to check them out for their children.”

Source: AL Direct, August 27, 2014. 


Morrison, Toni

The Bluest Eye

Holt, Rinehart and Winston

Challenged, but retained in the Durant, Okla., high school library (2014), despite a parent’s concerns over sexual and violent content. The 1970 novel was the first by the Pulitzer Prize winner.

Source: AL Direct, May 28, 2014.


Morrison, Toni

Song of Solomon

Plume

Suspended from the Highland Park, Tex., Independent School District’s approved book list (2014) by the school superintendent. The decision sparked a backlash and drew national attention. The superintendent then reinstated the book. In February 2015, the school district trustees approved policy changes on how the district selects books and handles parents’ objections. The challenged coming-of-age novel, written by a Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize winner, is about a young black man who grows up in Michigan. It has profanity, sexual imagery, and a story line about an incestuous relationship. The novel is on the College Board’s reading list for Advanced Placement English Literature.

Source: Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, Nov. 2014, pp. 162, 174-76; March 2015, p. 47.


Murugan, Perumal

Madhorubhagan (One Part Woman)

Penguin

Various Hindu political organizations in New Delhi, India (2014) have demanded a ban on the Tamil writer’s novel. They allege the novel portrays the Kailasanathar temple in Tiruchengode and women devotees in a “bad light.” Madhorubhagan tells the tale of a childless couple, Kali and Ponna. Their predicament is discussed in the backdrop of the “traditional free, consensual sex rituals” during the festival of the temple. After receiving threats and abuse, the author has sought police protection for himself and his family. In turn, various Hindu political organizations have called for the arrest of both the author and the publisher.

Source: Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, March 2015, p. 55.


Okimoto, Jean Davies and Elaine M. Aoki

The White Swan Express: A Story about Adoption

Clarion Books

One of three books about gay couples withdrawn from libraries in Singapore (2014), where gay sex is illegal. In a statement, the National Library Board suggested that gayness and family values are incompatible. The book is about four couples—one of which is a lesbian couple—who travel to China to adopt baby girls. Copies of the book will be pulped. In a statement, the National Library Board suggested that gayness and family values are incompatible. Copies of the book will be pulped. It was announced later that authorities in Singapore reversed their decision and stopped the national library from destroying the children’s books, after its decision in July produced a public outcry over literary censorship. Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim ordered that the books be moved to the adult section, where parents can borrow them for their children.

Source: Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, July-Sept. 2014, pp. 119-20.


Picoult, Jodi

Nineteen Minutes

Atria Books

Challenged at the Gilford, N.H., High School (2014). The award-winning novel depicts a school shooting in a fictional New Hampshire high school. The novel contains depictions of physical violence in public schools and a scene of graphic sexual activity. It has been a reading selection available to Gilford High School students in the past. Challenged, but retained at the Kennett, Pa., High School (2014) despite a parent’s complaint that the content in the book is not suitable for high school students.

Source: Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, May 2014, p. 81; Jan. 2015, p. 18.


Richardson, Justin, and Peter Parnell

And Tango Makes Three

Simon & Schuster

One of three books about gay couples withdrawn from libraries in Singapore (2014), where gay sex is illegal. The children’s book was inspired by a real-life story of two male penguins raising a baby chick. In a statement, the National Library Board suggested that gayness and family values are incompatible. Copies of the book will be pulped. It was announced later that authorities in Singapore reversed their decision and stopped the national library from destroying the children’s books, after its decision in July produced a public outcry over literary censorship. Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim ordered that the books be moved to the adult section, where parents can borrow them for their children.

Source: Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, July-Sept. 2014, pp. 119-20; AL Direct, July 23, 2014.


Satrapi, Marjane

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

Pantheon Books

Challenged, but retained on the Glenwood High School reading list in Chatham, Ill. (2014). A parent condemned the images of dismembered bodies and a guard using urine as a form of torture. The book tells the story of a young girl growing up in Iran during the Islamic revolution of 1979 and the reintroduction of a religious state. The graphic novel has been praised for teaching students about diversity and different points of view, but it also contains intense language, images, and themes.

Source: Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, Nov. 2014, p. 171.


Shipler, David K.

The Working Poor: Invisible in America

Vintage Books

Suspended from the Highland Park, Tex., Independent School District’s approved book list (2014) by the school superintendent. The decision sparked a backlash and drew national attention. The superintendent then reinstated the book. In February 2015, the school district trustees approved policy changes on how the district selects books and handles parents’ objections. Written by a Pulitzer Prize winner, the challenged book is about Americans in low-skilled jobs who struggle because of economic and personal obstacles. Some parents objected to the nonfiction book because it has a passage about a woman who was sexually abused as a child and later had an abortion.

Source: Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, Nov. 2014, pp. 162, 174-76; March 2015, p. 47.


Stein, Garth

The Art of Racing in the Rain

Harper

Suspended from the Highland Park, Tex., Independent School District’s approved book list (2014) by the school superintendent. The decision sparked a backlash and drew national attention. The superintendent then reinstated the book. In February 2015, the school district trustees approved policy changes on how the district selects books and handles parents’ objections. The challenged New York Times best seller about a racecar driver grieving the loss of his wife includes a sex scene that made some parents uncomfortable.

Source: Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, Nov. 2014, pp. 162, 174-76; March 2015, p. 47.


Steinbeck, John

Of Mice and Men

Bantam; Penguin; Viking.

Retained in the Brainerd, Minn., School District curriculum (2014) despite the complaints of two parents who objected to the use of “Jesus Christ” as a curse word, the use of the n-word to describe African Americans, and the term “Japs.” They argued this type of language undermines the values of respect they try to instill in their children and the novel should be pulled from the curriculum. Parents and students who object to the language may choose an alternate book by the Nobel Prize-winning author.

Source: AL Direct, April 30, 2014.
 


Walls, Jeannette

The Glass Castle: A Memoir

Scribner

Suspended from the Highland Park, Tex., Independent School District’s approved book list (2014) by the school superintendent. The decision sparked a backlash and drew national attention. The superintendent then reinstated the book. In February 2015, the school district trustees approved policy changes on how the district selects books and handles parents’ objections. The challenged memoir is about growing up in poverty with a father who spent his money on alcohol and a mother who became homeless.

Source: Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, Nov. 2014, pp. 162, 174-76; March 2015, p. 47.

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