Every year one of the questions we get asked most about our display is if these books were banned in Iowa. The books in the display have been drawn from cases of banning or attempted banning around the country and around the world. Sometimes the books were actually banned, in other cases there was an attempt to ban the book that failed, or some middle ground (the book was moved to another section, was kept behind the desk and had to be asked for etc.)
However, there have been some cases of banning in Iowa. This year’s list of from the ALA includes:
The Notebook Girls: Four Friends, One Diary, Real Life by Julia Baskin; Lindsey Newman, Sophie Pollitt-Cohen, and
Courtney Toombs which was reclassified from Young Adult to Adult in Waukee, Iowa after a book banning challenge and Iowa author Dori Hillestad Butler whose book My Mom’s Having a Baby faced a book banning challenge in Texas, but was ultimately retained.
The American Library Association offers a map showing cases of banning and banning attempts across the country. This map is drawn from cases documented by ALA and the Kids’ Right to Read Project, a collaboration of the National Coalition Against Censorship and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression.
See the map here:
(Click on the pointer to learn about that case, but note that you may have to refresh the page in between each click.)
Listed on it are the following cases in Iowa:
Missouri Valley, Iowa
(2007) Chris Crutcher’s Whale Talk was challenged at Missouri Valley High School by a local pastor who complained about the book’s ‘objectionable language.’ Following a letter from ABFFE and NCAC, the review committee recommended that the school keep the book and the book was subsequently returned to classrooms.
Council Bluffs, Iowa(2009) Walter Myers’ Hoops was challenged in the Council Bluffs schools because it contains derogatory remarks, racial slurs and sexual content.
(2011) Julia Baskin, Lindsey Newman, Sophie Pollitt-Cohen, and Courtney Toombs’ The Notebook Girls: Four Friends, One Diary, Real Life was reclassified from the young adult nonfiction section at the Waukee, IA Public Library because of a complaint citing “foul language” and “cussing.”
(2008) Justin Richarson and Peter Parnell’s And Tango Makes Three was challenged in the elementary school library in Ankeny by parents who didn’t want their children to read the true story of two male penguins raising a chick in the Central Park Zoo due to concerns that it promotes homosexuality. NCAC and ABFFE wrote a letter opposing the challenge.
Newton, Iowa(2007) John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Menwas challenged because of concerns about profanity and the portrayal of Jesus Christ. NCAC wrote a letter protesting its removal from a required reading list.To read the letter, click here.
- On the Iowa Border:
(2009) Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian was retained on the summer reading list despite objections from several parents who found its language vulgar and racist. In response to concerns, however, the district will form a committee each march to review future summer reading assignments. The committee, which will include parents, would decide whether parents should be warned if a book contains possibly objectionable material.
Sioux Falls, SD(2009) Stuck in the Middle: Seventeen Comics from an Unpleasant Age (Ariel Schrag, ed.) was pulled from the school library collections at two Sioux Falls public middle schools. The book is the work of sixteen cartoonists who recreated true tales from their middle-school years. The book’s major themes are bullying and boy-girl
awkwardness. Masturbation and marijuana show up in passing, and several of the vignettes include words most parents wouldn’t want to hear from their children.
- Not on the map:
(2009) Sari Says: The Real Dirt on Everything from Sex to School