10 most challenged books list for 2012 includes some newcomers

The most-challenged book series of 2012 was the 'Captain Underpants' books by Dav Pilkey. Former list-toppers 'ttyl' and 'The Hunger Games' are missing from the list entirely.

By , Staff Writer

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    The 'Captain Underpants' series by Dav Pilkey and 'The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian' by Sherman Alexie made the first and second spots on the most-challenged list of books for 2012.
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The American Library Association’s list of the 10 most challenged books of 2012 featured some new titles this time around.

There were 464 challenges in total in 2012, according to the Office of Intellectual Freedom, an increase from 2011 when 326 were reported.

The “Captain Underpants” series by Dav Pilkey are the No. 1 most challenged books for the year, with those who challenged the series claiming that these books are inappropriate for their target audience and have “offensive language.” The "Captain Underpants" books (the first of which was published in 1997) didn't appear in the Top 10 of last year's list and, in fact, have not appeared on any such list since 2005. 

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The No. 2 most-challenged title on the 2012 list is “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie, which was the fifth-most challenged title in 2011 and the second-most in 2010. Those who filed complaints against the book called it inappropriate for its age group and said that it had “offensive language, racism, [and was] sexually explicit.”

Behind Alexie's novel at No. 3 is “Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher. The novel was released in 2011 and follows a boy named Clay who is left a series of tapes by his classmate, Hannah, who had committed suicide weeks earlier. In addition to complaints that this book is inappropriate for its age group, “Thirteen Reasons Why” is also said to have content discussing “drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide.”

Another newcomer to the list is the notoriously raunchy “Fifty Shades of Grey” series by EL James. (Because the ALA includes any "formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school” in its criteria for compiling this list, the presence of “Fifty Shades of Grey” in the No. 4 slot does not necessarily mean that the book is being stocked in school libraries.  Complaints may well have come from readers who object to seeing the book their local library.)

Long-time "most-challenged book" list staple “And Tango Makes Three” by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson – a picture book about two male penguins who adopt a baby – reappeared this year in fifth place after being completely absent from the list in 2011.

No. 6 on the 2012 list is “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini, which had been missing from the list since 2008, when it ranked ninth. No. 8 is “Scary Stories” series by Alvin Schmidt, which reappeared on the 2012 list after last coming in at No. 4 in 2008

Meanwhile, the books that ranked No. 7 (“Looking for Alaska” by John Green) and No. 9 (“The Glass Castle” by Jeanette Walls) were both first-timers on the list. “Looking for Alaska” follows a boy named Miles who goes to boarding school and falls in love with a girl named Alaska. “Looking for Alaska” contains “offensive language, sexually explicit [content]” in addition to being unsuitable for its target audience, according to complaints. “The Glass Castle,” a bestselling memoir that describes the early lives of Walls and her brother, was charged with “sexually explicit” and “offensive" language.

No. 10, “Beloved” by Toni Morrison, last appeared on the list in 2006, when it came in ninth.

Titles missing from the list this year included the No. 1 most-challenged series for 2011, the “ttyl” books by Lauren Myracle. The “Color of Earth” series by Kim Dong Hwa, which ranked second last year, also fell off the list, as did last year's No. 3, “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins, and last year's No. 4, “My Mom’s Having A Baby!”

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