Banned Books Week

There were 416 books challenged for its content last year. Many of those books are available at the Victoria Public Library.

While the seven-book “Harry Potter” series is known for its enormous success, the books have also long been targets for removal and restriction in libraries and schools. The books have even been burned because people believed they glorified magic and the occult.

Banned Books Week, which falls on Sept. 23-29, exists to support the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those considered unorthodox or unpopular. The week was first started about the time of the Island Trees School District v. Pico Supreme Court case in 1982, which ruled that school officials can’t ban books in libraries simply because of their content.

But the case’s ruling didn’t stop people from objecting to material they deemed inappropriate, and attempts at censorship still happen today.

Katie Talhem, who is in charge of children’s and youth programming at the Victoria Public Library, said while she thinks some topics should be limited to certain age levels, she doesn’t think books should ever be outright banned.

The American Library Association‘s Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 354 challenges to library, school and university materials in 2017.

“I think it’s important for people to understand why these books were banned and remember that just because it doesn’t fit with your world view or perspective, it doesn’t mean the book isn’t worthwhile,” she said.

Top ten books to be challenged or banned in 2017

1. “Thirteen Reasons Why,” written by Jay Asher

Originally published in 2007, this New York Times bestseller has resurfaced as a controversial book after Netflix aired a TV series by the same name. This YA novel was challenged and banned in multiple school districts because it discusses suicide.

2. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” written by Sherman Alexie

Consistently challenged since its publication in 2007 for acknowledging issues such as poverty, alcoholism, and sexuality, this National Book Award winner was challenged in school curriculums because of profanity and situations that were deemed sexually explicit.

3. “Drama,” written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier

This Stonewall Honor Award-winning, 2012 graphic novel from an acclaimed cartoonist was challenged and banned in school libraries because it includes LGBT characters and was considered “confusing.”

4. “The Kite Runner,” written by Khaled Hosseini

This critically acclaimed, multigenerational novel was challenged and banned because it includes sexual violence and was thought to “lead to terrorism” and “promote Islam.”

5. “George,” written by Alex Gino

Written for elementary-age children, this Lambda Literary Award winner was challenged and banned because it includes a transgender child.

6. “Sex is a Funny Word,” written by Cory Silverberg and illustrated by Fiona Smyth

This 2015 informational children’s book written by a certified sex educator was challenged because it addresses sex education and is believed to lead children to “want to have sex or ask questions about sex.”

7. “To Kill a Mockingbird,” written by Harper Lee

This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, considered an American classic, was challenged and banned because of violence and its use of the N-word.

8. “The Hate U Give,” written by Angie Thomas

Despite winning multiple awards and being the most searched-for book on Goodreads during its debut year, this YA novel was challenged and banned in school libraries and curriculums because it was considered “pervasively vulgar” and because of drug use, profanity, and offensive language.

9. “And Tango Makes Three,” written by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson and illustrated by Henry Cole

Returning after a brief hiatus from the Top Ten Most Challenged list, this ALA Notable Children’s Book, published in 2005, was challenged and labeled because it features a same-sex relationship.

10. “I Am Jazz,” written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas

This autobiographical picture book co-written by the 13-year-old protagonist was challenged because it addresses gender identity.

Laura Garcia is the Features Editor for the Victoria Advocate. She may be reached at or 361-580-6585.

Features Editor

Laura has covered health and nonprofits in the Crossroads since 2014. She's also mom to a toddler, loves journalism conferences and is a big fan of sci-fi and crime TV.

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