It’s Captain Underpants Again: Banned Books Week 2014

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The cover from one of the "Captain Underpants" series (AP Photo/Scholastic Inc.)

The cover from one of the “Captain Underpants” series (AP Photo/Scholastic Inc.)

For the second consecutive year, the Captain Underpants series has skyrocketed like a superhero to the top of the most challenged books list, as tracked by the American Library Association (ALA).

The most challenged books are revealed each year as part of Banned Books Week, the ALA’s annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the harms of censorship. In 2013, there were 307 attempts to remove or restrict books from school curricula and libraries.

In the video below, the creator of Captain Underpants, Dav Pilkey, expresses his “shock” at being top of the list once again, before live drawing and explaining how people can express concern about a given book, without keeping that book from being read by others.

The 2013 top 10 most challenged books (and reasons why):

1. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence

2. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence

3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

4. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James
Reasons: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

5. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group

6. A Bad Boy Can Be Good for A Girl, by Tanya Lee Stone
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit

7. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

9. Bless Me Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
Reasons: Occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit

10. Bone (series), by Jeff Smith
Reasons: Political viewpoint, racism, violence

Bill Moyers on Banned Books

On the 30th anniversary of Banned Books Week in 2012, Bill explained why censorship is the biggest enemy of truth. “Think of it, some of the most inspiring and mind-opening words ever written, threatened with removal because they offended a self-deputized vigilante over who wants to deny an entire community’s curiosity and passion to learn.” Watch below:

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Karin Kamp is a multimedia journalist and producer. She has produced content for, NOW on PBS and WNYC public radio and worked as a reporter for Swiss Radio International. She also helped launch The Story Exchange, a site dedicated to women's entrepreneurship.
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