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Hunger Games trilogy among challenged books

The Hunger Games, a young adult book set in dystopian future where teens are forced to fight to the death in an arena, is moving up the U.S. list of challenged books.

Lauren Myracle's tween novels top American list of questioned books

Complaints about the Hunger Games book trilogy seemed to pick up in 2011 in anticipation of the film. (Alliance Films)

The Hunger Games, a young adult book set in dystopian future where teens are forced to fight to the death in an arena, is moving up the U.S. list of challenged books.

The trilogy by Suzanne Collins was No. 3 on the American Library Association's list of most challenged books — those that face complaints by parents and library patrons because of "unsuitable" content — for 2011. It was No. 5 in 2010.

Complaints levelled against the books included "anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence." The Hunger Games, which centres on a violent conflict in the arena, continues with Catching Fire and Mockingjay, which involve a bloody rebellion against a totalitarian state.

Top 10 challenged books

  1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle.
  2. The Color of Earth (series), by Kim Dong Hwa.
  3. The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins.
  4. My Mom's Having A Baby! A Kid's Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy, by Dori Hillestad Butler.
  5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie.
  6. Alice (series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.
  7. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley.
  8. What My Mother Doesn't Know, by Sonya Sones.
  9. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily Von Ziegesar.
  10. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.

Interest in the books was growing in 2011 with plans for the film released earlier this year. Barbara Jones, director of the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom, thinks the criticism of the books may have increased in anticipation of the film.  

"For instance, there was complaining about the choice of actors for the film," Jones says. "You had people saying someone was dark-skinned in the book, but not in the film, or dark-skinned in the film and not in the book. In general, a lot more people were aware of the books and that led to more kinds of complaints."

The Hunger Games film is still leading box office receipts, three weeks after its release, and has earned $303 million US so far in Canada and the U.S.

Lauren Myracle's tween novels ttyl, ttfn, l8r and g8r, which first appeared on the challenged books list in 2007, topped the 2011 list. Parents objected to the books for being "sexually explicit" and "unsuited to age group," according to the ALA. 

The books, written as if they were text messages, talk about experimentation with sex and drugs, and centre on the love dramas of high school.

Kim Dong Hwa's The Color of Earth, a series of graphic novels about a Korean girl who is daughter of a single mother, was a surprise new entry to the challenged books list. Complaints were made about  "nudity," "sex education," and "being sexually explicit and unsuited to the age group."

My Mom's Having A Baby! A Kid's Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy, by Dori Hillestad Butler was also cited because of nudity and sex education.

However, Tango Makes Three, the picture story by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell about two male penguins who raise a baby penguin that has topped the challenged book list for the last five years, did not even make it to the Top 10 this year.

The library association reported 326 challenges, a slight drop from 348 the year before, but warns that many challenges are not recorded by the school and public libraries that are members of the association.

The Freedom to Read Association in Canada puts together a list of challenged books but does not rank them or list all the reasons books are challenged. Among the books listed in 2010 are the Harry Potter series, Neil Gaiman's American Gods and Hergé's Tintin in the Congo. 

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