Next week is Banned Books Week and we will be running a series of activities and competitions. Books are usually challenged —to protect others, frequently young people, from difficult ideas and information. However, you may be very surprised about what books have been challenged and sometimes banned.
When a high school in Missouri recently banned Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut’s story of World War II as told through a science fiction lens, for creating “false conceptions of American history and government,” the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library stepped up to donate copies of the book to any affected student that requests it. Read more about Slaughterhouse-Five here.
Science fiction and fantasy books like Slaughterhouse-Five often contain themes that some people find questionable, whether it’s alien life forms, magical powers, or mystical worlds. The following are the most challenged science fiction and fantasy books according to the American Library Association:
- Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling — The stories of the wizarding world are seen by challengers to have occult and violent themes.
- Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins — The hot series for youth and adult readers has been deemed unsuitable to its target age group and violent.
- Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer — Its movie stars may provoke pandemonium, but critics of the book say it’s too sexually explicit.
- His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman — The series beginning with The Golden Compass is often decried for its anti-religious viewpoints.
- The Giver by Lois Lowry — Despite the book’s message of freedom of choice, criticisms are made for the fictional dystopia’s bleak family outlook.
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley — Offensive language, racism, and insensitivity are often cited in challenges to the future dystopian novel.
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury — The tale of a future world where the printed word is banned and systemically burned was criticized for offensive language.
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle — Children’s search through space and time for their vanished father is often challenged for the inclusion of supposed witches.