Iowa City Public Library Celebrates Banned Books Week

by on September 22nd, 2014

Celebrate the freedom to read during Banned Books Week.

The annual event was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, book stores, and libraries. Banned Books Week brings together all members of the book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers –- in support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas.

This year’s Banned Books Week celebration will be held September 21 through September 27.

According to the American Library Association, more than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982. There were 307 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2013. A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that a book or other material be restricted or removed because of its content or appropriateness.

The 10 most challenged titles of 2013 were:banned_books_week

  • Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
    Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence
  • The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  • Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James
    Reasons: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  • The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group
  • A Bad Boy Can Be Good for A Girl, by Tanya Lee Stone
    Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit
  • Looking for Alaska, by John Green
    Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
    Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  • Bless Me Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
    Reasons: Occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
  • Bone (series), by Jeff Smith
    Reasons: Political viewpoint, racism, violence

The Iowa City Public Library has Banned Books Week buttons for sale through September 27. They are available at the Help desk for $1 each. The Library also invites patrons to share photos of them reading banned books on twitter and Instagram, using the #caughtreadingatICPL hashtag.

Teens in grades seventh through 12th can celebrate Banned Books Week by participating in an online scavenger hunt about young adult books that are challenged and/or banned. Teens with the most correct answers will be entered into a drawing to win a Downtown District Gift Card. The scavenger hunt can be accessed at:

For more information about Banned Books Week, visit

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