Last month ThinkProgress reported that a Missouri high school had banned Kurt Vonnegut’s classic novel Slaughterhouse Five because religious residents complained that it taught principles contrary to the Bible. Now the American Library Association reports that this year alone, U.S. schools have banned more than 20 books and faced more than 50 other challenges, with many more expected this fall as school starts.
The library association says the number of reported challenges in the past 30 years has hovered between about 400 or 500, but there are many bans they never learn about. While parents have traditionally launched the lion’s share of challenges, Deborah Caldwell-Stone, an attorney with the association, says she has noticed “an uptick in organized efforts” to remove books from public and school libraries.
The top reasons for challenges are sexually explicit content, offensive language and violence. “That’s not what our kids should be reading and learning,” Roberta Combs, president of the Christian Coalition of America, told USA Today.
A review of the books banned by various schools in the past six months illustrates that eliminating this “objectionable material” actually deprives students of the chance to think and form their own opinions about difficult questions. The banned books include Push by Sapphire, the acclaimed novel about an illiterate 16-year-old girl that was made into the Academy Award-winning movie Precious. Also on the list is a “laugh-out-loud” picture book about a happy rat, and a book by a Pulitzer-Prize winning author that puts a human face on legendary human rights leader Mahatma Gandhi.
The complete list is below.