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Banned Books: Celebrate the Freedom to Read
 
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Banned Books: Teen Reviews

These books — all on lists of frequently challenged and banned books — have been reviewed by teens right here in Pittsburgh.

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round, Things by Carolyn Mackler

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

Gossip Girl (series) by Cecily Von Ziegesar

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

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Book Reviews

Click here to see all reviews.
Book Name Date Rating
The Perks of Being a Wallflower Ameret 7/29/2014
BLACK BIRD #3 david 7/28/2014
BLACK BIRD #2 david 7/28/2014
BLACK BIRD #1 david 7/28/2014
Shadows in Flight Brian 7/28/2014
Why We Broke Up Tamia 7/28/2014
Looking for Alaska maura 7/28/2014
Fangirl Brian 7/28/2014
NABARI NO OU #1 david 7/28/2014
NABARI NO OU #2 david 7/28/2014
NABARI NO OU #3 david 7/28/2014
NABARI NO OU #4 david 7/28/2014
NABARI NO OU #5 david 7/28/2014
Alice In The Country Of Clover Cheshire Cat Waltz #1 david 7/28/2014
Will Greyson, Will Greyson maura 7/28/2014
SHINOBI LIFE #1 david 7/28/2014
SHINOBI LIFE #2 david 7/28/2014
LIBRARY WARS: LOVE & WAR #1 david 7/28/2014
LIBRARY WARS: LOVE & WAR #3 david 7/28/2014
STROBE EDGE #1 david 7/28/2014
STROBE EDGE #2 david 7/28/2014
STROBE EDGE #3 david 7/28/2014
STROBE EDGE #4 david 7/28/2014
STROBE EDGE #5 david 7/28/2014
Alice In The Country Of Joker #4 david 7/28/2014
Alice In The Country Of Joker #1 david 7/28/2014
Alice In The Country Of Joker #2 david 7/28/2014
Alice In The Country Of Joker #3 david 7/28/2014
the lying game sudu 7/28/2014
The Scar Boys \Roxas 7/21/2014
Eleventh Grade Burns Allyson 7/21/2014
A DEVIL AND HER LOVE SONG 4 david 7/21/2014
A DEVIL AND HER LOVE SONG 1 david 7/21/2014
A DEVIL AND HER LOVE SONG 2 david 7/21/2014
A DEVIL AND HER LOVE SONG 3 david 7/21/2014
A DEVIL AND HER LOVE SONG 5 david 7/21/2014
Alice In The Country Of Clover Cheshire Cat Waltz #3 david 7/21/2014
Demon Love Spell 3 david 7/21/2014
Demon Love Spell 4 david 7/21/2014
Demon Love Spell 2 david 7/21/2014
Shadows Beyond the Gate Jensen 7/19/2014
Thousand Words JAYMESE 7/15/2014
Deadman Wonderland Volume 1 Ameret 7/15/2014
Illusion Ameret 7/15/2014
Demon Love Spell Volume 3 Ameret 7/15/2014
Unwind Mia 7/15/2014
Pandora Hearts Volume 16 Ameret 7/15/2014
In a Glass Grimmly Mia 7/15/2014
Lego Harry Potter Building The Magical World david 7/15/2014
Demon Love Spell 1 david 7/15/2014
Attack on Titan vol. 12 Louis 7/15/2014
Cinder Eva 7/15/2014
Half Bad Mona 7/15/2014
Code Name Verity Kristina 7/15/2014
Judge Volume 1 Ameret 7/15/2014
Judge Volume 2 Ameret 7/15/2014
The Boy From The Basement Ameret 7/15/2014
Paper Towns Jessica 7/15/2014
The Treatment Jessica 7/15/2014
Alice In The Country Of Clover March Hare #1 david 7/15/2014
A Tale Dark and Grimm Mia 7/15/2014
An Abundance of Katherines Jessica 7/15/2014
The Raven Boys Mia 7/15/2014
The Dream Thieves Mia 7/15/2014
The Grimm Conclusion Mia 7/15/2014
Big Book Of Everything Manga Olivia 6/27/2014
The Infinite Moment of Us Isabelle 6/27/2014
Eragon Prerana 6/26/2014
Manhood Aaron 6/26/2014
The Coldest Girl In Coldtown Allyson 6/24/2014
Seventeen Ultimate Guide To Style: How to Find Your Perfect Look Tamia 6/24/2014
The Looking Glass Wars Sena 6/24/2014
Ready Player One E 6/24/2014
The Magician King E 6/24/2014
The one Allyson 6/24/2014
City of heavenly fire Allyson 6/24/2014
The Picture of Dorian Gray Danielle 6/24/2014
Cinder Matalyn 6/21/2014
The Fledgling Handbook 101 House of Night david 6/21/2014
Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant david 6/21/2014
Eleanor and Park Louise 6/21/2014
Story of a Girl Louise 6/21/2014
The List Louise 6/21/2014
The Hunchback of Notre Dame Taylor 6/21/2014
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Taylor 6/21/2014
Inheritance Sophia 6/21/2014
The Fiery Heart Allyson 6/18/2014
Last Sacrifice Allyson 6/18/2014
Bloodlines Allyson 6/18/2014
Daylighters Allyson 6/18/2014
Kiss of Death Allyson 6/18/2014
All-American Girl Allyson 6/18/2014
Evil Star Kaitlin 6/18/2014
More Than This Madison 6/18/2014
Team Human Allyson 6/16/2014
Game Over, Pete Watson Corey 6/16/2014
Solid Allyson 6/16/2014
Vampire diaries. Moonsong Allyson 6/16/2014
Bloodthirsty Allyson 6/16/2014
Artemis Fowl Savanna 6/12/2014
Freedom to Read
Intellectual Freedom
In the News
  • ALA: Banned & Challenged Books
    The American Library Association's banned books resource explains the difference between a banned book and a challenged book. It explains why books are most often challenged and who challenges them, and provides a list of groups that are First Amendment advocates, with links to their websites. From here you can access information and a calendar of events for Banned Books week, find the Office of Intellectual Freedom's blog, search for frequently challenged books by author, year, or decade and read through the librarian's toolkit for facing a library material challenge.
  • ALA's Freedom to Read Foundation
    The Freedom to Read Foundation protects and promotes the freedom to read primarily through disbursing grants to individuals and groups who need help in related lawsuits, and participating in lawsuits dealing with the freedom to read and first amendment rights. The ALA page details these actions and has news updates regarding the Foundation and the people it honors.
  • ALA's Freedom to Read Statement
    The full text of the Freedom to Read Statement, adopted in June of 1953 by the American Library Association, and a list of links to the websites of its endorsers.
  • American Bookseller's Foundation for Free Expression Banned Books
    The ABFFE is a sponsor of Banned Books Week and has produced a free handbook for booksellers participating in the celebration, or anyone who wants to participate in some way. It includes display and event ideas, a list of movies about free expression, posters, images, and links to other resources.
  • BannedBooksWeek.Org
    Provides information about the history of Banned Books Week, examples of banned and challenged books, and ideas of what you can do and what other people (authors included) are doing to call attention to banned and challenged books in your community.
  • Banned Books Week on Facebook
    Become a fan of Banned Books Week on Facebook and receive updates on Banned Books Week-related events across the globe, news about banned and challenged books, and access to videos and promotional materials, as well as find other defenders of the freedom to read.
  • Bill of Rights Defense Committee on Freedom to Read
    According to their website, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee's "mission is to promote, organize, and support a diverse, effective, national grassroots movement to restore and protect civil rights and liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. Our purpose is to educate people about the significance of those rights in our lives; to encourage widespread civic participation; and to cultivate and share the organizing tools and strategies needed for people to convert their concern, outrage, and fear into debate and action to restore Bill of Rights protections." They maintain a page devoted to the freedom to read which collects news stories and links on threats to the freedom to read.
  • Blogging Censorship
    The blog of the National Coalition Against Censorship follows and reports on issues of censorship such as news of new challenges to library materials.
  • Book Burning
    The American Library Association's collection of information about the history of book burning. A great resource for quotations and headlines about book burning, and a short bibliography of related works.
  • Freedom to Read Display from the Cambridge Public Library
    An example of a library's Freedom to Read display
  • Freedom to Read Protection Act
    A summary of the 2003 House of Representatives Bill, which exempted libraries and booksellers from having to provide private information to Federal Investigators in their investigations. A list of the cosponsors of the Bill is provided.
  • Google Books: Celebrate Your Freedom to Read
    A collection of banned or challenged books that are searchable through Google Books. Limited previews of the text and bibliographic information available.
  • Google Map of Banned or Challenged Books
    This interactive Google map shows where books were banned or challenged from 2007-2009. Clicking on an indicated point on the map calls up a window that summarizes the ban or challenge and provides links to more information.
  • The Kids' Right to Read Project
    A project of the National Coalition Against Censorship and the American Bookseller's Foundation for Free Expression, this project "offers support, education, and advocacy to people facing book challenges or bans and engages local activists in promoting the freedom to read," [quoted from the website]. Their website connects interested advocates to a network of other advocates, promotes the completed projects of the KRRP, and has a toolkit on Book Censorship, among other resources.
  • Special Collections Exhibit on Banned Books
    The Department of Special Collections at the Kenneth Spencer Research Library (part of the University of Kansas) has an online catalogue of their Exhibit on banned books, which was originally published in 1955 and put together by the Director of the Libraries at the time, Robert Vosper.
  • YALSA: Dealing with Challenges to Young Adult Materials
    The Young Adult Services Association's guide to challenges to YA materials. Provides contact information for ALA's Office of Intellectual Freedom along with basic tips for dealing with challenges to the Teen collection and links to other resources and support on the web.
  • ALA's Intellectual Freedom Roundtable Blog
    The Intellectual Freedom Roundtable, part of ALA, promotes intellectual freedom and discussion of intellectual freedom and has several awards that honor work in that area. Its blog reports on intellectual freedom.
  • American Civil Liberties Union's Freedom of Speech Resource Center
    A source of breaking news on free speech issues ranging from the general to the specific (e.g.: Legislative Documents, Supreme Court Cases, Student Speech, etc.)
  • Beacon for Freedom of Expression
    The Beacon for Freedom of Expression is a database put together by the Norwegian Forum for Freedom of Expression. It allows the user to search either for a censored work (by author, title, language, type of censorship or reason for censorship) or a publication on censorship.
  • Chilling Effects
    The Electronic Frontier Foundation and Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, University of San Francisco, University of Maine, George Washington School of Law, and Santa Clara University School of Law clinics run this website, which tracks cease and desist letters and other intellectual property disputes, and explores the ways that legal threats can have a "chilling effect" on the creativity of the online community.
  • Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
    The CBLDF is a non-profit organization put together to defend the first amendment rights of comic book authors and artists. The website provides a bibliography on comics censorship, files on the cases it has helped to defend, a history of comics censorship, and a history of the organization (which was founded in 1986).
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation
    The Electronic Frontier Foundation involves itself in legal battles for digital rights and uses its website for the public's education. It maintains a blog and a podcast has and an archive of press clippings, but also has a tool to test your ISP for outside interference, among other digital rights-related software.
  • First Amendment Handbook
    The entirety of this handbook, compiled by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, is available online. It is meant to be a resource on the laws affecting journalists and their ability to gather and publish information. It covers libel, invasion of privacy, surreptitious recording, confidential sources, prior restraints, gag orders, access to courts, access to places, Freedom of Information Acts, and copyright.
  • Great Firewall of China
    A website that lists tested URLs that have been blocked in China. The FAQs address the anonymity of the site, the situation in China, and internet censorship in general.
  • Index on Censorship
    The Index on Censorship is a British organization that aims to "[provide] up-to-the-minute news and information on free expression from around the world," [quoted from their website].
  • MPAA Ratings
    The Motion Picture Association of America, along with the National Association of Theater Owners, has operated a voluntary board that rates every movie that is released in the U.S. This site allows you to search by title for a movie's rating, and explains the rules of the ratings and their history.
  • National Coalition Against Censorship
    The National Coalition Against Censorship "is dedicated to protecting rights and principles guaranteed by the First Amendment. We report on incidents of censorship and provide support and resources to people facing challenges to freedom of inquiry and expression," [quoted from their website]. The NCAC is behind the Kids' Right to Read Project, Free Expression Policy Project, Youth Free Expression Network, and more.
  • Project Censored
    Project Censored trains students in investigative research and publicizes news stories that it feels are misrepresented or underreported. It is based out of Sonoma State University and is a project of its Sociology Department. The website has a feature where censored or buried stories can be nominated, and is a place where these stories are reported.
  • Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression
    Founded in 1990 and located in Charlottesville, VA, this non-profit's mission is to protect free expression in all forms, defined as three main areas of work: shaping the law, education, and the arts. The website lists all recipients of "Jefferson Muzzles", awards highlighing acts of censorship. It has podcasts of various programs relating to the themes of its mission, collections of legal briefs in which it was involved, an online exhibit about arts censorship, and more.
  • University of Pennsylvania's Online Books Page of Banned Books
    This collection provides links to full texts of banned books and discusses why they were banned.
  • University of Virginia Libraries online Censorship exhibit
    The Special Collections department put together this online exhibit to foster discussion about censorship. Nineteen categories dealing with the history of censorship can be explored, with accompanying scans of rare items from the Special Collections.

Below are some interesting stories of the past year or so, regarding your right to access information freely.


Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian is absolutely banned by a Missouri school district.

Before the 2009 school year, high schools in Missouri's Stockton Unified School District added Sherman Alexie's award-winning young adult novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian to its ninth and tenth grade communications curriculums. However, it wasn't long before parents complained about its realistic portrayal of Arnold Spirit, a 14-year-old American Indian attempting to fit in at his first all-white school. Language, sexual situations, and general teen ribaldry were cited most often by parents, and in April 2010 the school board voted unanimously to remove the book from both the curriculum as well as the school library. Recently, due to public outcry, the school board is reconsidering its decision.


Glenn Beck group succeeds in removing LGBTQ book from New Jersey high school.

In May, members of the Glenn Beck-founded 9.12 Project used lists generated by the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network to challenge a number of LGBTQ-related books at Rancocas Valley Regional High School, located in New Jersey. The board of education subsequently removed Revolutionary Voices: A Multicultural Queer Youth Anthology from school library shelves. Parents and teachers complained about the targeting of LGBTQ books, and the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund is currently assessing whether a lawsuit would be appropriate. The 9.12 Project plans to use these lists in removing LGBTQ-related material from all local area high schools and has been ennobled by its recent success.

Ellen Hopkins banned from Texas Teen Lit Festival as authors withdraw.

Ellen Hopkins was one of the original authors invited to the Humble, Texas annual Teen Lit Festival. However, her invitation was revoked after parents and a local middle school librarian complained to the superintendent. Hopkins, who explores subjects ranging from meth addiction to teen prostitution in books such as Crank, was notified that her appearance wouldn't be welcome. In protest, several of the other authors scheduled to come, including Pete Hautman, Melissa de la Cruz, and Matt de la Peña, revoked their own visits, causing the Humble Independent School District to cancel the event. Several authors, including Pittsburgh's Sharon G. Flake, still came to the Humble area in order to reach the teens being affected by the school board's decision.

Death Note stays in Alburquerque high school, despite challenges.

In May, parental objections raised over Death Note -- the popular manga in which a teenager finds he has the ability to kill anybody in the world simply by writing their name in a special demonic notebook--sparked a hearing in New Mexico's Alburquerque Public School District. While parents objected to the concept of a teen willfully causing the deaths of others, the school district decided that it was an important rumination on responsibility, justice, and morality and retained the book in the three high schools which were carrying it. The complaints come on the heels of a rash of copycat notebooks, leading to suspensions and expulsions in states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, South Carolina, and Alabama.

At Indiana high school, Song of Solomon removed, reinstated, and reconsidered within a year.

In April, 11th grade AP students at Franklin Central High School were studying the Toni Morrison classic Song of Solomon when it was suddenly removed from the classroom. Acting on parental complaints, school board members (one referring to the book as "garbage") requested the book be pulled from all school-based curriculum, which triggered a formal review process. After several days, the book was returned after it was reviewed by a committee of parents, students, and officials. It was challenged again in June by a parent who referred to the book as "pornography," though that challenge was again dismissed. Debates are currently ongoing as to what say school board members should have in supplementary reading assignments.