A newspaper in Alabama has collected information to analyze which books moms and dads are most likely to challenge in that state. According to their records, that list includes a novel about a girl in foster care, a book with a vampire character and a pregnancy guide.
The Anniston Star explains that in Alabama (and in other states), parents have the opportunity to request that a book to be removed from shelves by filling out a form. A school library committee reviews each request and decides whether to take action or not.
The paper and students at the University of Alabama found that nine out of 132 school districts in Alabama have reported parental complaints about books in the last five years (77 districts said there were no challenges, 46 didn't respond). And Barbara Jones, director of the American Library Association's Office of Intellectual Freedom, says that only 20 percent of book challenges are reported. So, while the findings are hardly indicative of larger book banning trends, they are certainly interesting.
The Daily Mail focused on one parent's request to ban "The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth." According to the Star, "The parent claimed the material showed 'explicit drawings of how to make love while pregnant' and 'pornographic pictures that should not be viewed by children.'"
A committee ultimately decided that the book could stay on shelves, but it was moved to the "reference" section and can only be checked out with parental permission.
"That's a good: you wouldn't want young people to have access to information about safe sexual practices," Alexander Nazaryan wrote on the Atlantic's website. In the county where this complaint was submitted, one in every eight births is to a teen mom.
As mentioned, the Star's analysis is not representative of the types of books that are called into question around the country. The most challenged book in American Library Association's 2013 study was Dav Pilkey's "Captain Underpants" series. "Fifty Shades of Grey" was fourth on the list.
Author Judy Blume recently visited HuffPost Live and gave a history lesson on the topic of banned books. "The censors didn't come out of the woodwork until after the presidential election of 1980 ... And it is still going on," she said. "Banned Books Week," an annual event which celebrates the freedom to read, was launched in 1982.
See the list of Top Ten Most Challenged Books 2012: