The ALA has released its list of the Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2011. The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom received 326 reports regarding attempts to remove or restrict materials from school curricula and library bookshelves. The most challenged books were as follows:
1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle (offensive language; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group)
2. The Color of Earth (series), by Kim Dong Hwa (nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group)
3. The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins (anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence)
4. My Mom's Having A Baby! A Kid's Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy, by Dori Hillestad Butler (nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group)
5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie (offensive language; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group)
6. Alice (series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (nudity; offensive language; religious viewpoint)
7. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley (insensitivity; nudity; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit)
8. What My Mother Doesn't Know, by Sonya Sones (nudity; offensive language; sexually explicit)
9. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily Von Ziegesar (drugs; offensive language; sexually explicit)
10. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (offensive language; racism)
A few trends among these and other singled-out titles:
Health and wellness books for young people came under fire in 2011. My Mom’s Having a Baby, #4 on the ALA’s list, was challenged in public libraries in Florida and Texas. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris also faced scrutiny in Florida public libraries, while What’s the Big Secret? by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown was challenged in an elementary school library in Washington state. In each case, the books faced objections due to their frank presentation, including illustrations, of health and sexual issues.
Charges of racism were leveled against several titles, among them The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (#5 on the list) and To Kill a Mockingbird (#10) – two books with prominent anti-racist themes.
Perceived bias in textbooks proved a popular rallying point, with controversy often stoked by political pundits. Social Studies Alive! was publicly challenged in St. Charles (Ill.) Unit District 303 and in schools in Frederick County, Md. The third-grade textbook faced national criticism from Glenn Beck and other prominent conservatives for promoting a “liberal agenda.” In Virginia, Tea Party members targeted textbooks that they said showed bias toward Islam.
The list comes along with the ALA's 2012 State of America's Library Report, which it is issuing in conjunction with National Library Week (April 8-14). According to the 2012 report, free access to information is in jeopardy with the ALA citing such issues as libraries' inability to get access to some e-books because of restrictions placed on their use by publishers and deep budget cuts. The entire report can be read here.