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The Kirkwood Community College Library is celebrating the American Library Association’s (ALA) Banned Book Week. Each year the Kirkwood Library on the Cedar Rapids campus puts on a display featuring titles from our collection that have been banned somewhere. Between 2001 and 2009, libraries reported to the ALA 4, 312 attempts to ban a book from public access. See more photos of the display in the library’s Flickr account and on our Facebook page.

The primary reasons behind an banning or attempted banning were given as sexually explicit material and offensive language. Other general reasons for attempting to ban a book included unsuited to age group, violence, homosexuality, being anti-family, and having religious content. There are also title specific attacks on books including Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder for its treatment of Native Americans, In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak for among other things an implication that a little boy might be put in a baking oven, which was objected to being too close to the Holocaust, and the popular picture book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. because the author shares a name with an obscure Marxist and no one bothered to check it was the same man (it wasn’t – this was in January 2010).

Popular series of recent years including Captain Underpants, Harry Potter, and Twilight have all found themselves on the banned list. Classics banned include The Grapes of Wrath, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Gone with the Wind. Even the Bible and a couple of dictionaries have made the list.

The display of banned books is currently up and will remain up through Banned Book Week and beyond. Stop by and see it before November 11th. Stand up for your rights and read a banned book.

To find out more, check out the ALA’s Banned Book Week information here:

Frequently Challenged Books: http://tinyurl.com/frequentlychallenged

Top Books Banned in a Given Year (see the guide used in our display online under 2009)

Top 10 Books from 2009 http://tinyurl.com/y2lyjv4
Books Challenged and/or Banned – 2009-2010 (PDF)
Books Challenged and/or Banned – 2008-2009 (PDF)
Books Challenged and/or Banned – 2007-2008 (PDF)
Books Challenged and/or Banned – 2006-2007 (PDF)
Books Challenged and/or Banned – 2005-2006 (PDF)
Books Challenged and/or Banned – 2004-2005 (PDF)

For surprising titles on the list and the reason behind their banning, read this in the Baltimore Sun: http://tinyurl.com/BannedBooksSurprises

For ideas how to celebrate Banned Book Week, see this article from the New York Times:

Attend a local celebration of Intellectual Freedom and Banned Books at the Iowa City Public Library:


And here: http://is.gd/fnyO9

by Sarah S. Uthoff, Reference Librarian