Banned Books Weeks Kicks Off

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(WREG-TV) For years, censors searched for books they considered inappropriate and tried to get them out of school and libraries.

Most of that’s a thing of the past, so groups are working hard to make sure we don’t forget history and repeat it.

Banned Books Week, sponsored by the American Library Association, is designed to highlight books that have been challenged or banned.

More than 11,300 books have been challenged in libraries and schools since 1982, when Banned Books Week began.

“I mean, they're reading, for God’s sakes,” said Rafael Kern.

To Kill a Mockingbird, The Catcher in the Rye, The Color Purple, Fahrenheit 451 -  all books once challenged and even banned from schools and libraries.

They're now displayed like literary battle scars, cautionary tales of what censorship can produce.

For years, hundreds of titles weren't allowed on school book shelves, and some parents wouldn't buy them.

“For 39 years, we've been celebrating Banned Book Week, the freedom to read banned books” said, Stacey Smith, Central Library manager.

She understands there might be people who object to the sex in Fifty Shades of Grey or the sorcery in the Harry Potter series, but she's not one of them.

“We do not police or ban our materials for public use,” Smith said.

“If they are deemed questionable in the parent's mind then it`s up to the parent to not allow that child to check out the material.”

It would seem that the tawdry Fifty Shades would lead the list of most challenged books this year, but that title belongs to The Adventures of Captain Underpants.

It’s toilet humor - two mischievous kids who turn their cantankerous principal into a superhero flying around with a cape and his white underpants.

Captain Underpants surprised me that it was banned," said Cheryl Mesler, co-owner of Burke's Book Store. "I don't know that there was anything really objectionable in Captain Underpants. It's a big seller for us.”

To celebrate Banned Books week, Burke’s Books is offering free kits that include a bookmark, a pin and a small book of matches covered in a tiny book jacket of Fahrenheit 451.

They are free at the bookstore at 936 S. Cooper.

The ten most challenged books in 2012 were:

Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: Offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group
Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James.
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson.
Reasons: Homosexuality, unsuited for age group
The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini.
Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
Looking for Alaska, by John Green.
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
Reasons: Unsuited for age group, violence
The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
Beloved, by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence