Banned Books Week begins with 'Captain Underpants' topping the banned list

The American Library Association celebrates Banned Books Week this year from Sept. 22 to Sept. 28.
Posted By KATE STANTON,  |  Sept. 23, 2013 at 7:47 PM
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It's time to pick up your favorite banned book, because libraries, teachers, anti-censorship activists and book lovers around America are celebrating the nation's most-challenged literature this week.

Banned Books Week, held each year by the American Library Association, hopes to "promote the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one's opinions even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular."

Dav Pilkey's "Captain Underpants" series topped this year's list of frequently challenged books because some parents object to its toilet-based sense of humor.

Barbara Stripling, president of the American Library Association, told The Guardian that young-adult books -- like "Thirteen Reasons Why" and "Looking for Alaska" -- often make the list because of the desire to protect teenagers from bad influences.

"Young adult is a big trend right now, and a high number of complaints are directed at those books," Stripling said. "There is a lot of pressure to keep teenagers safe and protected, especially in urban areas, and we are seeing many more complaints about alcohol, smoking, suicide and sexually explicit material."

"Teenagers tell us that they like to read about what's going on," she added.

They say 'what do they [adults] think we are?', as if teenagers remain naive and uneducated when facing these issues every day. The best way to protect them is to give them an array of things to read. If they are over-sheltered, they will enter the world without coping skills.

Here's the ALA's top-10 list of the most-banned books last year:

1. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey. Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group

2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie. Reasons: Offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group

3. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher. Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group

4. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James. Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit

5. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson. Reasons: Homosexuality, unsuited for age group

6. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini. Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit

7. Looking for Alaska, by John Green. Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group

8. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz Reasons: Unsuited for age group, violence

9. The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit

10. Beloved, by Toni Morrison Reasons: Sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence

You can learn more about Banned Books Week on the ALA's website, or visit the Banned Books Week YouTube channel, where authors and celebrities read from their favorite banned books.

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