cover-soal-300The American Library Association recently issued it’s latest annual report on the state of libraries in the US. Most people don’t realize it, but the ALA has always been right at the front lines of the censorship battle and is responsible for keeping books in libraries that some would rather ban and burn. As a former bookseller, publisher and now writer I encourage everyone to take a strong stand against censorship. Freedom of speech is the cornerstone of the American democracy.

Here is this year’s list of most frequently challenged books. Some are of questionable taste and some are just plain stupid, but all are protected under the Constitution. I don’t personally see the need for extreme vulgarity, implicit sex or graphic depictions of violence, but I stick by the right of the authors to write what they want.

Decide for yourself if the books are offensive, stupid or age inappropriate, then take a deep breath and join the ALA in fighting against censorship. I’m also including a link to the entire ALA report, which has some very interesting bits about the challenge to libraries from budget issues and digital publishing.

Top Ten List of Frequently Challenged Books in 2012:

  1. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey (offensive language, unsuited for age group)
  2. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie (offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group)
  3. “Thirteen Reasons Why,” by Jay Asher (drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group)
  4. “Fifty Shades of Grey,” by E. L. James (offensive language, sexually explicit)
  5. “And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell (homosexuality, unsuited for age group)
  6. “The Kite Runner,” by Khaled Hosseini (homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit)
  7. “Looking for Alaska,” by John Green (offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group)
  8. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz (unsuited for age group, violence)
  9. “The Glass Castle,” by Jeannette Walls (offensive language, sexually explicit)
  10. “Beloved,” by Toni Morrison (sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence)

The full text of the 2013 State of America’s Libraries Report is available at The Zmags version of the report is available at American Libraries Magazine.