Ever since my mom discovered my dog-eared copy of Brave New World tucked under my mattress, I've been a First Amendment activist. This is the week that bibliophiles like me celebrate the little acts of treason that keep us free by offering a list of the dangerous books that somebody doesn't want you to read.
The American Library Association has compiled the top 10 most challenged books of the 21st century. Here they are (so far):
1. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
2. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
3. Alice series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
4. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
5. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
6. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
7. It's Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
8. Scary Stories series by Alvin Schwartz
9. Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey
10. Forever by Judy Blume
All but three of these books also were in the top 10 of the most challenged books of the 1990s. The ALA reports there were more than 3,000 attempts to remove books from schools and public libraries between 2000 and 2005. Challenges are defined as formal, written complaints filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness. The ALA has a more complete list of Challenged and Banned Books on their website as well.
Buy one for a child. Read one yourself. Your freedom might just depend on it.
Of course, "book banning" is really shorthand for the Powers and Principalities' attempts to control our access to information. Sometimes it's by trying to prevent young people from reading something that an adult thinks contains dangerous ideas (like Harry Potter). Those clownish attempts by would be censors are pretty obvious and frankly, usually sort-lived and easily overcome. But the more serious attempts to control your access to information are made by the Mainstream Media's publishing decisions. A tip of the beret to Comrade John at A Lie A Day for his exposure of Newsweek's latest cover story.