From '1984' To Jon Stewart's 'America,' These Books Have Been Banned In The U.S. And Texas | KERA News

From '1984' To Jon Stewart's 'America,' These Books Have Been Banned In The U.S. And Texas

Sep 27, 2016

It’s Banned Books Week. The national weeklong event celebrates the freedom to read and open access to information. The week also serves as a reminder that many great works of literature — books like "The Great Gatsby," "1984," "The Bluest Eye" — were once deemed unfit for public consumption and censored.

Who challenges books and why?

In 2014, the most common institutions to challenge books were public libraries, according to the American Library Association, and the most common initiators were parents. Books are often challenged for more than one reason. But in 2014, books were most commonly banned for being sexually explicit, having offensive language or not being appropriate for a particular age group.

 

Books are still being challenged and banned in schools, libraries and prisons across the country and in Texas. Keep reading to learn which books have been censored through the decades.

 

Banned books in Texas schools

 

In the 2015-2016 school year, the Texas ACLU recorded 13 book challenges from 12 school districts across the state. Books were challenged for several reasons including being too scary, too offensive and too insensitive to religion. Five of those books were banned. The ACLU filed open records requests to school districts and got responses from 53 percent of schools contacted.

 

These five books were banned by schools:

The Texas ACLU says librarians and school administrators were able to avoid outright bans and instead accommodate complaints from parents. They denied access to the book to the child of the parent who complained or required students to get their parents’ permission before checking out the text.

 

See all the challenged books recorded by the ACLU, including “This One Summer” by Mariko Tamaki by McKinney ISD.

 

Read more about Texas schools banning books at the bottom of the post.

 

Banned books in Texas prisons

Before it was published this month, “Wolf Boys: Two American Teenagers and Mexico’s Most Dangerous Drug Cartel” by Dan Slater was banned by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Director’s Review Committee, according to The Guardian.

 

The nonfiction book tells the story of Gabriel Cardona and Bart Reta, who were once teenagers with bright futures growing up in Laredo. But their lives took a turn when they got involved with the Zetas, a Mexican drug cartel, and one of the boys became an assassin.

 

More: On “Think with Krys Boyd,” Slater talks about what Cardona and Reta's transformations say about the perilous prospect of growing up on the border.

 


 

Both Cardona and Reta are serving decades in the Texas criminal justice system. The Guardian reports: "TDCJ spokesman Jason Clark cites one page, which ‘contains information on how to conceal and smuggle illegal narcotics.’” These two sentences on page 124 were problematic:

“Mario purchased pickup trucks from which he removed panels and lights. The trick was packing the drugs in a part of the vehicle where the body wouldn’t lose its hollow sound when slapped.”

The Texas criminal justice system has banned 15,000 books its correctional facilities. According to The Guardian, the list of books banned in Texas jails includes a collection of Shakespeare’s sonnets and a collection of Leonardo DaVinci’s sketches. Other banned items include:

More book bans

Here's a look at other challenged and banned books.

Learn more

Learn more about Banned Books Week.