There were 326 instances of books challenges that were sent to the American Library Association in 2011, according to the ALA. The association releases a list each year of the books that received the most objections over the past year, and while there are some newcomers to this year's list, many of the top 10 for 2011 are frequent offenders.
The “ttyl” series by Lauren Myracle, author of “Shine,” earned the number one spot on the list for 2011. While it escaped the top ten rankings entirely for the 2010 list, the series, which follows three high school girls via their online instant messages, snagged the number one spot in 2009 and was number three in 2008. The books were challenged for sexually explicit content and offensive language, among other charges.
The second most frequently banned books, however, were "The Color of Earth" series by Kim Dong Hwa, a newcomer to the ALA top ten list. “Color” is the story of the daughter of a single mother living in Korea who runs a tavern. The books ran afoul of parents and teachers because of nudity (the books are graphic novels) and sex education depicted in the series as well as other complaints.
Another familiar title in the 2011 list was the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, which was number three this year and came in at number five last year. It was challenged for violence and sexual content. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie, which was number two last year and was cited for offensive language, racism, and its religious views, was ranked number five in 2011. “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley, which landed the seventh spot this year and was number three in 2010, was challenged due to nudity, racism, and sexually explicit content, among other charges.
A newcomer was “My Mom’s Having A Baby!” by Dori Hillestad Butler, which came in at number four for the 2011 most-challenged list but had not made the rankings before, despite being published in 2005. The book is written for younger children who have a parent who is expecting a child, but according to the ALA, teachers and parents complained about the book’s nudity and sexual content.
Other titles that made the 2011 top ten list included the "Alice" series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, which follow the adventures of a young girl through her senior year of high school. The books were challenged due to nudity and offensive language, among other problems. The "Alice" books last made the list in 2006. “What My Mother Doesn’t Know,” by Sonya Sones, a novel about a female high school freshman told through poetry, was also number seven on the list last year. The "Gossip Girl" series by Cecily Von Ziegesar, which has also made the list in past years, was ranked number nine for 2011, and “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, which was ranked number four in 2009, came in at number ten for this year.
This was the first year the illustrated book “And Tango Makes Three” by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, a children’s book about two male penguins who raise a baby, did not make the ALA list since its publication in 2005. Last year, “Tango” ranked as the number one most challenged book, and it was the second-most challenged in 2009.
Molly Driscoll is a Monitor contributor.