In the age of the Internet, children and teens are less likely to head to the library than they are to head to Amazon. According to one survey, 40.2% of teens have bought a book online, but remember: 74.5% of teens also said they had a parent, teacher, religious leader, or another trusted adult recommend an inspirational book to them in the last year. So no matter what your opinions are about any of the books on this list, it’s as good a time as any to remind parents to take an active role in their kids’ reading habits. When parents read, kids read.
For the 2014-2015 school year, the American Library Association says these were the 10 books most often challenged:
- 1. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” Sherman Alexie
- 2. “Persepolis,” Marjane Satrapi
- 3. “The Bluest Eye,” Toni Morrison
- 4. “The Kite Runner,” Khaled Hosseini
- 5. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” Stephen Chbosky
- 6. “Drama,” Raina Telgemeier
- 7. “Chinese Handcuffs,” Chris Crutcher
- 8. “The Giver,” Lois Lowry
- 9. “The House on Mango Street,” Sandra Cisneros
- 10. “Looking for Alaska,” John Green
As you can see, the list covers a wide range of material, from novels for middle school students to more adult fare. Anyone who’s paid attention to the latest trends in young adult and fantasy books for middle school students knows that violent books like “The Hunger Games” have dominated best-seller lists of late. But this list largely contains books you’re more likely to find on required reading lists for schools.
Books are challenged for a variety of reasons, including concerns that they are simply too mature for the age group. Other oft-cited reasons include violence, sexual content, graphic language, religious viewpoints, or lack of religious viewpoints. For instance, “The Giver” is often challenged for being “too dark” for young readers, but it’s positively cheery compared to Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye,” which portrays a young girl horribly abused by her own father.
Ultimately, parents should decide what their kids are ready to read. And in the age of smartphones, attempts to ban books might just make them easier to find. We know that kids who read inspirational books for students are often better prepared for school, life, and complicated social situations. So use banned book week as a chance to ask your son, daughter, or students what they’re reading. And if the answer is “Nothing,” then take the opportunity to recommend some self-improvement classics or fantasy books for middle school-aged readers.