Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Justice

San Diego Public Library Highlights Banned Books By Reading Censored Books Aloud

We're sorry. This audio clip is no longer available.

With the Internet allowing access to just about any kind of information these days, the concept of banning books seems like something from another century.

But, every year, books in libraries and schools continue to be challenged — and some of them are removed.

On Friday, the San Diego Public Library will mark National Banned Books week, with a Banned Books Read-Aloud event.

Most books are banned because parents don’t want children exposed to literature they don’t agree with. Heather Fowler, author of "Catholic Girls Smile," she told KPBS Midday Edition reading restricted books is valuable.

“It’s important to support authors when you see them being banned. That is how some of the most interesting and diverse voices can appear and really get the sort of readership they need,” she said.

The San Diego Public Library follows the American Library Association's "Library Bill of Rights" which reads in part, "Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment."

The ALA first issued its Freedom to Read statement, in 1953. An exerpt from that statement reads, "We trust Americans to recognize propaganda and misinformation, and to make their own decisions about what they read and believe. We do not believe they are prepared to sacrifice their heritage of a free press in order to be 'protected' against what others think may be bad for them."

The library's policy on challenging books or materials in the library collection permits people to fill out a "Request for Reconsideration" form which library staff use when considering whether to remove materials from circulation.

According to, the 10 most challenged titles of 2013 were:

The Captain Underpants series, by Dav Pilkey, was at the top of the banned books list in 2013 due to offensive language and violence according to

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

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

'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.

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

'The Hunger Games', by Suzanne Collins — Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group

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

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

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

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

'Bone' (series), by Jeff Smith — Reasons: Political viewpoint, racism, violence


San Diego News Now podcast branding

San Diego news; when you want it, where you want it. Get local stories on politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings. Hosted by Anica Colbert and produced by KPBS, San Diego and the Imperial County's NPR and PBS station.

  • Your curated weekly guide to local arts and culture in San Diego, from Arts Calendar Editor Julia Dixon Evans, delivered to your inbox every Thursday afternoon.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Midday Edition banner

KPBS Midday Edition is a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.