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Banned Literature

Research and information on censorship and banned literature

Modern Banned Literature

Modern banning of books has evolved into a very different system today than it was in the past. Banning books would happen through large groups of authority, such as the Catholic Church or the German government. While some countries still censor as a whole, most (especially those who have evolved into democracies) ban or challenge on a small scale within individual schools or libraries in their countries.

Challenging is the process we hear about most often today, especially in the United States. While banning infers an across-the-board restriction, challenging is more subtle and more individualized to specific libraries. Challenging a book also has many more steps than banning had in the past. Forms have to be filled out and the school or library board would have to deliberate on whether to keep or remove the book in question. Since challenging happens most with books at one location or another, we included a list of the top ten challenged books of 2015 to represent those who engender the most controversy today.

With this being said, censorship does still happen on a wide scale over different media outlets in certain countries. Check out our censorship page for more information on censorship in the past and today. 

Common Reasons for Banning Books

Each book that is banned or censored is done so for the content within the pages. There are a few common reasons that books have been banned or censored in schools, libraries, and books stores. These include: 

Racial Issues: About and/or encouraging racism towards one or more groups of people

Encouragement of "Damaging" Lifestyles: Content of book encourages lifestyle choices that are not the norm or could be considered dangerous or damaging. This could include drug use, co-habilitation without marriage, or homosexuality.

Blasphemous Dialog: The author of the book uses words such as "God" or "Jesus" as profanity. This could also include any use of profanity or swear words within the text that any reader might find offensive.

Sexual Situations or Dialog: Many books with content that include sexual situations or dialog are banned or censored. 

Violence or Negativity: Books with content that include violence are often banned or censored. Some books have also been deemed too negative or depressing and have been banned or censored as well.

Presence of Witchcraft: Books that include magic or witchcraft themes. A common example of these types of books ae J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter Series. 

Religious Affiliations (unpopular religions): Books have been banned or censored due to an unpopular religious views or opinions in the content of the book. This is most commonly related to satanic or witchcraft themes found in the book. Although, many books have also been banned or censored for any religious views in general that might not coincide with the public view. 

Political Bias: Most commonly occurs when books support or examine extreme political parties/philosophies such as: fascism, communism, anarchism, etc.

Age Inappropriate: These books have been banned or censored due to their content and the age level at which they are aimed. In some cases children's books are viewed to have "inappropriate" themes for the age level at which they are written for. 

Source: "Common Reasons for Banning Books," Fort Lewis College, John F. Reed Library. Banned Books, Censorship & Free Speech. November 15, 2013. Web. March 19, 2014.

Breaking Down Censorship

understanding book challenges image

From the State of America's Libraries Report, courtesy of the American Library Association.

10 Banned Books

This video was taken from Alltime10s' channel on Youtube. It was originally published on September 4th, 2012. 

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Unless otherwise noted, the content of these guides by Loras College Library, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Some icons by Yusuke Kamiyamane. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.