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Posted at 10:57 AM ET, 04/17/2010

Harry Potter tops list of decade's most banned/challenged books

By Valerie Strauss

The wildly successfully Harry Potter series turned out to be the most challenged books in the last decade, according to the American Library Association.

This week the association released its last of the most challenged books of 2009, and then the decade. Yesterday I wrote about how the books in the “Twilight Saga” had joined the annual list of challenged books.

The most challenged books for 2009 were the four books in the “ttyl” series written by Lauren Myracle: "ttyl," "ttfn," "l8r," and "g8r." Reasons cited by those making the challenge were Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs.

What’s a challenge? It is a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school, requesting that materials be removed or restricted because of content or appropriateness.

For nearly 20 years, the library association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom has collected reports on book challenges. But the office believes that a majority of challenges go unreported and that its statistics reflect only 20-25 percent of the ones that are actually filed.

Topping the list for the years 2000-2009, on the list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of the Decade, is the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, frequently challenged for various issues including occult/Satanism and anti-family themes.

For the previous decade, from 1990-1999, the most challenged books were the "Scary Stories" series by Alvin Schwartz. Reasons cited for challenges were Occult/Satanism, Religious Viewpoint, Violence. But in the year 2009, these books dropped off the top 10 most challenged books.

Here are the top 50 books of the last decade, and you can find the rest at

Top 50 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009

1 Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
2 Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
3 The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
4 And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
5 Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
6 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
7 Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
8 His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
9 TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series), by Myracle, Lauren
10 The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
11 Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Meyers
12 It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
13 Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
14 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
15 The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
16 Forever, by Judy Blume
17 The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
18 Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
19 Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
20 King and King, by Linda de Haan
21 To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
22 Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
23 The Giver, by Lois Lowry
24 In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
25 Killing Mr. Griffen, by Lois Duncan
26 Beloved, by Toni Morrison
27 My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier
28 Bridge To Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
29 The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney
30 We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier
31 What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
32 Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
33 Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
34 The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
35 Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison
36 Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
37 It’s So Amazing, by Robie Harris
38 Arming America, by Michael Bellasiles
39 Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane
40 Life is Funny, by E.R. Frank
41 Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
42 The Fighting Ground, by Avi
43 Blubber, by Judy Blume
44 Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher
45 Crazy Lady, by Jane Leslie Conly
46 Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
47 The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby, by George Beard
48 Rainbow Boys, by Alex Sanchez
49 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
50 The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

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By Valerie Strauss  | April 17, 2010; 10:57 AM ET
Categories:  Literature, Reading  | Tags:  American Library Association, Harry Pottery, Harry Pottery and banned books, Twilight and banned books, Twilight books banned, Twilight joins banned list, banned books, censored books, censorship, challenged books, literature, reading  
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Thanks for the link for the entire list... These ARE the books I encourgage my children to read. What a great way to get me to read a particular book, try to ban it.

Posted by: Pumpkin31 | April 17, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Having read a number of those books myself (a high school student), several of which I read for the first time in elementary school, I can say that my mind was not corrupted by reading them. I remember parents saying that if students are allowed to read Harry Potter, they will start practicing magic and stop believing in God. Really? Kids pretend to be students at Hogwarts for fun, not because they actually believe in it. With regards to objection over religious views, sexism, etc. in other books, students deserve to understand that the world is not always a pretty place. If the book shouldn't be read by children, then it need to not be promoted in that way. But students have the choice to read a book and can always choose to put it down.

Posted by: VeganRunner | April 17, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

I loved reading Harry Potter books to my kids. But someone explained to me that all the magic and wizard stuff was considered sinful by some religions. also Voldemort is pretty Satanic. But, I loved the books.

I am surprised that the vampire books aren't banned. Only because I was reading a book for third graders in which one of the character's friends is a vampire. It was a little creepy how the girl's uncle was sleeping in a coffin. I just thought it was bizarre how the two little girls were talking about the vampires in a very inclusive way, as if the vampires ate a normal lunch.

Posted by: celestun100 | April 17, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I just realized the Twilight books are the vampire books. sorry. These are very popular. I don't think banning will work.

Posted by: celestun100 | April 17, 2010 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Maybe we need to do away with the concept of "children's literature" entirely. Until a certain point, anyone who could read read anything of interest--once children got past the McGuffey's readers they learned to read from, they read the same books as adults--Dickens, Melville, etc.--and no one worried about the effect on them. Of course, they also attended funerals of their friends and heard their parents discussing financial problems and in general took part in family life as though they were real people instead of exotic creatures to be protected. It seemed to work, maybe because when you are treated like the people around you, you tend to act like the people around you.

Posted by: sideswiththekids | April 18, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

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