Attempts to have library books removed from shelves increased by more than 20 percent in 2004 over the previous year, according to a new survey by the American Library Association.
Three books with gay themes, including Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” were among the works most criticized.
Robert Cormier’s classic “The Chocolate War” topped the 2004 list of challenged books, cited for sexual content, violence and language. It was followed by Walter Myers’ “Fallen Angels,” a young adult novel set in Harlem and Vietnam and criticized for racism, language and violence.
Also high on the ALA list were Angelou’s memoir and two other books with gay content: “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky, and “King & King” by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland.
The number of books challenged last year jumped to 547, compared to 458 in 2003. That’s still well below the peak from a decade ago, when more than 700 books were challenged.