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Virtual Displays: Freedom to Read Week 2022

Freedom to Read Week

Welcome to Freedom to Read Week!  This week we celebrate our freedom to read what we choose free of censorship. 

Since it was founded in 1982, Banned Books Week, now also called Freedom to Read Week, has highlighted the value of free and open access to information by drawing attention to the attempts to remove books and other materials from libraries, schools, and bookstores. 

The past few years have seen an upsurge in censorship attempts in the form of book challenges, book bans, and attacks on school and public libraries. 

What is Freedom to Read Week / Banned Books Week?

Freedom to Read Week (also called Banned Book Week) is an annual celebration that draws attention to challenges to books and books that have been banned in schools as well as libraries.  Librarians WANT you to have the freedom to make your own choices about the books you read!  Books are often challenge or banned for supposed moral or religious reasons, or sometimes just because a single person disagrees with a character or story.  Often challenges are brought by a minority, albeit a loud one, who want to control the access of everyone.  But librarians believe in your freedom to read whatever you choose. 

To the right you will find the Top Ten challenged books from the past year, 2021.  2021 saw an increase in challenges to books about and by LGBTQ+ and BIPOC individuals

Below you can also find other books in the Viterbo Library that have been banned or challenged at some point in time. 


Banned & Challenged Books in the Viterbo Library

The Diary of a Young Girl

Banned for: inappropriate for age group, believing Anne Frank wasn't a real person, discussion of sex and masturbation, being pro-Jewish propaganda, etc.

To Kill a Mockingbird

Banned for: themes of rape and use of profanity and racial slurs.

The Kite Runner

Banned for: depictions of homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoints, sexually explicit, violence, unsuited to age group.

The Paper Bag Princess

Banned for: being "anti-family"

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Banned for: frank descriptions of masturbation, sex, drugs, and suicide.

His Dark Materials: the Golden Compass (Book 1)

Banned for: promoting atheism and attacking Christianity, in particular the Catholic church.

The Hate U Give

Banned for: inappropriate language, pervasive vulgarity and racially-insensitive language, indoctrination of distrust of police.

The Hunger Games

Banned for: Anti-ethnic, anti-family, insensitivity, offensive language, occult/satanic, violence, religious viewpoint, and sexuality.

The Chocolate War

Banned for:"adult" language, frequent sexual references, and violence.

The Amazing Bone

Banned for: violence, racism and political viewpoint.

The Giving Tree

Banned for: being sexist.

Alice in Wonderland

Banned for: expressing expletives and alluding to masturbation and other sexual fantasies as well as diminishing, in the eyes of children, the statures of certain authority figures.

The Bluest Eye

Banned for: sexually explicit material, graphic descriptions, disturbing language, an underlying socialist-communist agenda and being a “bad book.”

The Catcher in the Rye

Banned for: profanity and sexual references, use of vulgar and obscene language, as well as statements defamatory to God, being anti-white, immoral, and/or violent

Thirteen Reasons Why

Banned for: drug and alcohol use, sexual content, suicide, and being unsuited for age group.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Banned for: discussion of alcohol, poverty, bullying, violence, sexuality, profanity and slurs related to homosexuality and mental disability.

The Snowy Day

Banned for: being a picture book with a black character, author, a white man, did not have the right to create a Black character and that he only created a "Black" story so that he could get the award

This One Summer

Banned for: including LGBT characters, drug use, and profanity, and being considered sexually explicit with mature themes.

And Tango Makes Three

Banned for: Homosexuality, religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group


Banned for: racial themes, sexual content, and passages about ghosts

Brave New World

Banned for: Insensitivity, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, and drug use.

Bridge to Terabithia

Banned for : "references to witchcraft and atheism and a lot of swearing"

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Banned for: promoting witchcraft, including sexual content, offensive language, and being "a masterpiece of satanic deception"

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? My First Reader

Banned for: Author was mixed up with another author who wrote a book about Marxism.

Jacob's New Dress

Banned for : "not appropriate for any child whose parents support traditional family values," and being a "tool of indoctrination to normalize transgender behavior"

Of Mice and Men

Banned for: “profanity,” “morbid and depressing themes,” and the author’s alleged “anti-business attitude.” Others have called it “derogatory towards African Americans, women, and the developmentally disabled.”

In the Night Kitchen

Banned for: "desensitizing children to nudity"

Nasreen's Secret School

Banned for: "religious viewpoint,” “unsuited to age group” and “violence.

Looking for Alaska

Banned for: a sex scene that was "a bit much" and "inappropriate language."

Strega Nona

Banned for: ' for depicting magic, witches, and witchcraft in a positive light'

Outside over There

Banned for: references to nudity, religion and witchcraft and being 'weird and frightening'


Banned for: being 'depraved, immoral, psychotic, vulgar, and anti-Christian' and obscenity

All Boys Aren't Blue

Banned for: LGBTQIA+ content, profanity, and because it was considered to be sexually explicit

Gender Queer: a Memoir

Banned for:portraying a queer character, "pornographic, obscene, perverse" content

More About Banned Book Week

PBS News Debate over Parental Rights and Book Bans 2022

Top Ten 2021

By the Numbers

Ongoing Censorship

2021 saw a record breaking 1,586 book bans, targeting 1,145 unique books.  Book challenges continue and new laws and policies are being enacted to censor what is being taught in school, what books can be purchased, and what books and ideas individuals can access.

There has been an increase in challenges reflecting the recent backlash and ongoing debates surrounding the teaching and discussion of race and racism in American history, LGBTQ+ identities, and sexual education in schools.  Trends also show an uptick in challenges originating from legislators and administrators, ie. government censorship.

You may have heard of the "Don't Say Gay" law passed in Florida or about Texas's "Critical Race Theory Law" but there is plenty more happening right now. 

Check out :

Newest PEN America Report "Banned in the USA: The Growing Movement to Censor Books in Schools"

PEN American's Report  "Banned in the USA" released in April of 2022 which has a more current view of book bans in America.

States with Book Ban Laws

Weekly Intellectual Freedom News from the ALA

News from the National Coalition Against Censorship

Most Challenged Comics since 2000

Track Critical Race Theory Bans by State

Total book challenges in 2022 set to exceed 2021 record