In 2015, the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom released a list of the books most objected to at public schools and libraries.
The ALA says in July of that year, a Harris poll on attitudes about book banning and school libraries revealed that out of the 2,244 US adults who participated, 28 percent felt that certain books should be banned — but this is an increase of more than half since the previous 2011 survey, where 18 percent were in favor of book-banning. So is intellectual freedom under pressure, or are Americans finding cultural shifts objectionable, or is it something else entirely?
Take a look at the books listed here. It’s not shocking that a book like Fifty Shades of Grey or I Am Jazz (about a transgender child) should be on the list. But The Holy Bible? Yes folks, it’s on the list.
1. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
2. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James
Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and other (“poorly written,” “concerns that a group of teenagers will want to try it”).
3. I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
Reasons: Inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint, and unsuited for age group.
4. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin
Reasons: Anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“wants to remove from collection to ward off complaints”).
5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
Reasons: Offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“profanity and atheism”).
6. The Holy Bible
Reasons: Religious viewpoint.
7. Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
Reasons: Violence and other (“graphic images”).
8. Habibi, by Craig Thompson
Reasons: Nudity, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
9. Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, by Jeanette Winter
Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, and violence.
10. Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan
Reasons: Homosexuality and other (“condones public displays of affection”).
“You have people who feel that if a school library buys a copy of the Bible, it’s a violation of church and state,” says James LaRue, who directs the Office for Intellectual Freedom for the American Library Association, which released its annual 10 top snapshot of “challenged” books on Monday, part of the association’s “State of Libraries Report” for 2016.“And sometimes there’s a retaliatory action, where a religious group has objected to a book and a parent might respond by objecting to the Bible.” LaRue emphasized that the library association does not oppose having Bibles in public schools. Guidelines for the Office for Intellectual Freedom note that the Bible “does not violate the separation of church and state as long as the library does not endorse or promote the views included in the Bible.” The ALA also favors including a wide range of religious materials, from the Quran to the Bhagavad Gita to the Book of Mormon. LaRue added that the association does hear of complaints about the Quran, but fewer than for the Bible.
Seriously? The Bible gets more complaints than the Quran? Heck, folks can have whatever viewpoints they want, and of course you’re going to get complaints for just about every book but, The Bible smack-dab in the middle of the list? It still seems shocking. Am I the only one?
[Note: This article was written by Michele Hickford]