Bookmachine | Towing the Line: Banned books & YA fiction

BookMachine_logoThis fortnight’s Bookmachine article, sponsored by Getty images, has gone live! It’s all about the fine line between honest enough and too much in YA literature. Read it over on the Bookmachine blog, or get started right here:

The Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF), an arm of the American Library Association (ALA), recently released the list of the most banned books in the US during 2014. It’s an annual report, but what’s surprising is that, year upon year, these lists increasingly contain YA and Children’s titles.

These challenges seem to be part of a wider movement debating the appropriateness and necessity of more mature themes cropping up in literature aimed at younger audiences. More importantly, it brings up the question, once you leave the parents out: what do young people really want to read about?The enshrined right to read a book

Each year, the OIF compiles a list of the ten ‘Most Banned’ books in the US, then draws attention to the censorship of these and other banned books during Banned Books Week (27 Spetmeber-3 October 2015). It is, the OIF believes, every person’s right to express their thoughts through writing, and everyone else’s right to be able to access and read those thoughts.

The list compiled by looking at the number of ‘challenges’, attempts to remove or restrict a given title, made via documented requests to schools and libraries during the course of the previous year. Evidence shows that between 2000-2009, at least 5,099 challenges were reported to OIF. Of these, 1,639 were made in school libraries and 1,811 in classrooms, with a whopping 2,535 of the total made by parents. This indicates that at least half the challenges were probably made in relation to books accessed by, and intended for, younger audiences, by their guardians.

This correlates with many of the titles listed as frequently banned books over the past few years, which feature a number of YA books, including The Hunger Games, The Kite Runner and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Reasons for challenges include ‘sexually explicit’, ‘offensive language’, ‘violence’ and, most interestingly, ‘unsuited to age group’. We can surmise that US parents are clearly concerned about what ideas YA literature might be exposing their children to… [READ MORE]