Hawaii Literacy states that more than 40 million Americans read below a fifth grade level. Over 155,000 adults here in Hawaii join that statistic and 16 percent of these people are functionally illiterate. Associated with these numbers are poverty and crime; 43% of adults at the lowest level of literacy live in poverty and over 60% of the adults in prison read at or below the fourth grade level. Developing higher literacy skills is a necessity, and learning to read and write is crucial yet, banning books is still a widespread practice throughout America.
Banned books week, an annual celebration of the right to read challenged literature aims to bring attention to censorship of books in America by displaying well-known books and authors that are considered ‘unfit to read’ by some.
This event was started by the national book community in 1982 in response to the surge in book challenging to school libraries, public libraries and bookstores. Since its inception, over 11,300 books have been challenged. 464 of these challenges were reported last year to the Office of Intellectual Freedom, which is in charge of implementing the American Library Association policies as written in the Library Bill of Rights.
The banned books week project positively helps communities by encouraging people to read, to think for themselves, and to utilize their freedoms to pore over works that are judged by the few to be unworthy.
The Virtual Read-Out encourages readers to share their opinions of banned books via banned books week’s YouTube channel. People interested in participating are asked to make and upload a video about a favorite banned or challenged book. In this video, they should talk about how important the book is to them, tell everyone how they would feel if they were prevented from reading it, read from a banned/challenged book, discuss eyewitness accounts of book banning, or creating a photo montage that talks about their favorite banned or challenged book.
The following is a list of the top ten books that were banned last year. A full list of shockingly banned books can be found on the American Library Association’s website.
Top Ten Banned Books of 2012
Banned Books Week is an annual event created by the national book community. It celebrates the freedom to read, and highlights the censorship of both new and classic books. The following is a list of the top ten banned books of 2012:
#1: Captain Underpants (series)
Captain Underpants, the humorous series of kids books by author/illustrator Dav Pilkey is on the list due to claims that the books are full of offensive language, and is therefore unsuitable for its age group.
#2: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Native American author Sherman Alexie is number two on the list of banned books due to claims that it has offensive language, racism, sexually explicit language, and unsuitability to its age group.
#3: Thirteen Reasons Why
The novel, Thirteen Reasons Why by author Jay Asher is number three because it is said to have drugs/alcohol/smoking, is sexually explicit, brings up the subject of suicide, and is unsuited for its age group.
#4: Fifty Shades of Grey
Popular fiction Fifty Shades of Grey by author E.L. James is under scrutiny because it is said to have offensive language, and is sexually explicit.
#5: And Tango Makes Three
Children’s picture book And Tango Makes Three by authors Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson makes the list because of the topic of homosexuality. It is also said to be unsuitable for its age group.
#6: The Kite Runner
Author Khaled Hosseini’s fictional novel The Kite Runner makes the list because it deals with homosexuality. It is also said to contain offensive language, sexually explicit words, and brings up the topic of religious viewpoint.
#7: Looking for Alaska
Looking for Alaska, the novel by John Green is among the top ten list because it is claimed to contain offensive language, sexually explicit situations and is therefore deemed by some to be inappropriate for its age group.
#8: Scary Stories (series)
This series of Scary Stories is a collection of folklore and urban legends written and adapted by author Alvin Schwartz from 1981-1991. Its reasons for making the list are: violence and unsuitability for its age group.
#9: The Glass Castle
The Glass Castle is a memoir by author Jeanette Walls. It makes the list because it is said to contain offensive language, and sexually explicit situations.
Famous author Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved remains on the Banned Books list because it is said to contain references to religious viewpoints, violence and sexually explicit paragraphs.