It’s been a busy year for The Kids’ Right to Read Project. The anti-censorship organization’s coordinator, Acacia O’Connor, recently revealed that she has confronted 49 book banning incidents in 29 states in 2013, a 53 percent increase from 2012.
During the latter half of the year, 31 books were banned, and a trend surfaced among them: many of the censored titled were by minority authors, such as Ralph Ellison, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison and Rudolfo Anaya. Says O’Connor:
“Whether or not patterns like this are the result of coordination between would-be censors across the country is impossible to say… But there are moments, when a half-dozen or so challenges regarding race or LGBT content hit within a couple weeks, where you just have to ask, ‘What is going on out there?'”
One such author, Sherman Alexie, has been hard at work this year promoting independent bookstores, and speaking out against banned books. His novel, The Absolutely True Diary Of A Part-Time Indian, regularly appears on the American Library Association’s list of most-challenged books. Earlier this year, it was banned for mentioning masturbation.
According to the ALA, the most commonly cited reason for banning a book is its inclusion of “sexually explicit” content. Other reasons cited include drugs, violence and offensive language. While most challengers are parents, some are local or state government officials.
Also challenged this year was Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, after a mother in Alamogordo, New Mexico deemed it “inappropriate.” Today, Gaiman said:
“I’m just glad that organizations like the Kids’ Right to Read Project exist, and that so many of these challenges have successful outcomes.”