Why are some people so offended by a book series that contains no profanity, no nudity, no sex, no drugs, no smoking, no alchohol, no guns and no more violence than a children’s superhero cartoon? For the second year in a row, The Captain Underpants books series by Dav Pilkey, was the number one complained about book in America. Dav Pilkey’s answer is pretty simple and it makes perfect sense “Everybody doesn’t always like the same things.”
2014 marks the 32nd year that Banned Books Week has celebrated the freedom to read. Banned Books Week runs September 21 – 27, 2014 to reminds Americans that everyone has the freedom to read any book they choose, and about the importance of preventing censorship. According to American Library Association (ALA), for every banned book reported, there are many more that are not.
The spotlight is on graphic novels during this year’s Banned Books Week because, even though they are extremely popular and have literary merit, they are a popular target for censorship. The list of the “Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2013” includes two graphic novels: Dav Pilkey’s “Captain Underpants” series in the number one spot and Jeff Smith’s “Bone” series is at #10.
In the attached video, Dav Pilkey explains how you can express concern about a book without undermining the freedom to read of those around you just by making a few simple changes.
- Next time you think “I don’t want children to read this book” just make one tiny change and think instead “I don’t want MY children to read this book”
- Instead of saying, “That book does not belong in the library” say “That book does not belong in MY HOME”
- If you find yourself saying to yourself, “I should complain about that book” instead think “I should read and discuss that book with my family”
“By changing ourselves we allow others to experience the freedoms they deserve. Make a simple change and make the world a better place.” Pilkey’s explanation is simple enough to understand, but most likely difficult for those who step on the rights of others, to take to heart.
The Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2013
1. “Captain Underpants,” (series), by Dav Pilkey
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence
2. “The Bluest Eye,” by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
3. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
4. “Fifty Shades of Grey,” by E. L. James
Reasons: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
5. “The Hunger Games,” by Suzanne Collins
Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group
6. “A Bad Boy Can Be Good for A Girl,” by Tanya Lee Stone
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit
7. “Looking for Alaska,” by John Green
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
8. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
9. “Bless Me Ultima,” by Rudolfo Anaya
Reasons: Occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
10. “Bone” (series), by Jeff Smith
Reasons: Political viewpoint, racism, violence
Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, American Library Association, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of American Publishers; Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Freedom to Read Foundation, National Association of College Stores, National Coalition Against Censorship, National Council of Teachers of English, PEN American Center, People For the American Way and Project Censored. It is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.
For more information on Banned Books Week, book challenges and censorship, please visit the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom’s Banned Books website or bannedbooksweek.org.