Thursday, September 5, 2013

Frequently Asked Questions about Banned Books Week

Why are books challenged?
Books usually are challenged with the best intentions—to protect others, frequently children, from difficult ideas and information.
Often challenges are motivated by a desire to protect children from “inappropriate” sexual content or “offensive” language. The following were the top three reasons cited for challenging materials as reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom:
1. the material was considered to be "sexually explicit"2. the material contained "offensive language"3. the materials was "unsuited to any age group"

What is the difference between a challenge or banning?
A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group.  A banning is the removal of those materials.  Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others.  Due to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens, most challenges are unsuccessful and most materials are retained in the school curriculum or library collection.

Who Challenges Books?
Throughout history, more and different kinds of people and groups of all persuasions than you might first suppose, who, for all sorts of reasons, have attempted—and continue to attempt—to suppress anything that conflicts with or anyone who disagrees with their own beliefs.

Where can you find more information on why a particular book was banned?
•Attend the SSC Public Library presentation on Banned/Challenged Books on Monday, September 23 at 6:30pm.
•Visit your local public library and ask your librarian.
•E-mail the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom to ask about a specific book. A staff member will reply with any information the office has on file. Please limit your inquiry to one book. If you would like information on more than one book, please consider purchasing the Banned Books Week Resource Guide.
•See Banned and Challenged Classics. (

•Check out the Banned Books Week > Ideas & Resources > Free Downloads page where you can find the yearly Books Challenged or Banned Lists that contain more information on why a book was challenged. (

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