There is nothing better than getting ready to settle down and read a good book by finding bookmark charms for sale, lighting a fire, making a warm drink, fluffing the couch cushions, etc. Unfortunately, however, not everyone agrees as to which books are “good” and which books are “bad.” There are some books, acknowledged classics, innocuous-seeming children’s books, and others, that certain groups deem not only bad but dangerous. These books are viewed as such a threat that concerned citizens go to great efforts to remove them from library shelves.
Book challenges and ban attempts often target school libraries because it is believed that the literature has the potential to corrupt young people. Books targeted at children and young adults are among the most frequently challenged. Challenges come primarily from parents and school administrators, sometimes clergy or church groups, as well as other initiators. There are many reasons why books get banned or challenged, but here are five of the most common.
1. Sexual Dialogue or Situations
A book that includes sexual interactions or even discussions about sex may be subject to bans or challenges. Such works may be deemed pornographic. Books that contain non-heteronormative sexual situations or themes are even more likely to be banned.
2. Religious or Occult Content
A book that provides an unpopular opinion of common religion or a favorable view of a minority faith may face challenges. Concerned adults may see them as attempts to convert young people or lure them away from the practice of religion in general. Books containing depictions of magic are often accused of promoting witchcraft.
3. Obscenity and Profanity
Parents often raise concerns about books that contain obscene language, perhaps out of fear that their children will start using words that the parents find offensive. Parents and religious groups may also object to profanity or the use of the name of a deity as an interjection outside the context of prayer.
4. Racial Issues
A book may be challenged for views considered to be racist or for challenging social norms regarding race. The latter was more common in the days when segregation laws were on the books in several states. Books that contain racial slurs in the dialogue are sometimes challenged even when the purpose is to demonstrate that a character is cruel and unsympathetic.
Books that contain descriptions of graphic violence may be challenged or banned. People may fear that they will instigate or encourage other violent encounters or threats.
Many challenges arise because of a misunderstanding of the books’ themes or rhetorical purposes. The misunderstanding probably arises because the people who object do not read the entire book.