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Books under fire

The Harry Potter series, along with such classics as John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men and a children's series called Captain Underpants, top the list of books that have come most under fire in the last six years, according to the American Library Association.

india Updated: Sep 30, 2006 18:52 IST

The Harry Potter series, along with such classics as John Steinbeck's

Of Mice and Men

and a children's series called Captain Underpants, top the list of books that have come most under fire in the last six years, according to the American Library Association.

The ALA, which began tracking efforts to pull books off school shelves and from libraries in 1990 and which is celebrating the 25th anniversary of Banned Books Week through September 30, said J.K. Rowling's boy wizard series led the pack of books most challenged so far this century because of its use of witchcraft and for inciting, according to its detractors, bad behaviour.

Steinbeck's book has come under fire for containing racist, violent language and sexism, while the Captain Underpants super-hero is deemed unsuitable for children and is accused of being "anti-family".

Also on the Top 10 list of books most challenged in the 21st century are Maya Angelou's acclaimed autobiography I know Why the Caged Bird Sings, the story of an African American childhood in the 1930s Depression, which was rapped as containing racism, homosexuality and offensive language.

The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier, and Forever, by Judy Blume, both came under attack for sexual content and offensive language while Robie Harris' It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health, a guide for middle school students, was panned for being too graphic.

The other books on the list are Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's Alice series, Walter Dean Myers' Fallen Angels and the Scary Stories series by Alvin Schwartz.

"More than a book a day faces expulsion from free and open public access in US schools and libraries every year," ALA said in a statement.

ALA president Leslie Burger noted that "throughout history, there always have been a few people who don't want information to be freely available. And this is still true."

There were 405 known attempts to remove books in 2005, ALA said.

Challenges are defined as formal, written complaints filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content.

The works of literary giants such as Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut and George Orwell have come under attack in the past as have books by best-selling popular authors such as Stephen King, Toni Morrison and Alice Walker.