Children's writer Philip Pullman ranked second on US banned books list | Books | guardian.co.uk
It shocks me that in the 21st century we still ban books. And Philip Pullman's books, while critical of the Catholic Church, still portray a world with angels in it.
The number one most banned book is "And Tango Makes Three," the true story of the gay penguins in the NYC zoo who adopted a baby penguin.
Its newly released rankings for 2008 recorded 513 cases where books were targeted for censorship, of which 74 were successfully banned or restricted. Pullman's trilogy was the second most commonly attacked, a result, the ALA believes, of an organised campaign that the anti-defamation group the Catholic League launched against the film version of The Golden Compass.
Several schools across America faced requests from parents to remove the book. One challenge at a school in Winchester, Kentucky was made on the grounds that the book's main character drinks wine and eats poppy with her meals. Another school in Oshkosh, Wisconsin pulled the trilogy because of its "anti-Christian message".
Reached by the Guardian, Pullman quipped that he was "very glad to be back in the top 10 banned books". But he added: "Of course it's a worry when anybody takes it upon themselves to dictate what people should or should not read. The power of organised religion is very strong in the US, and getting stronger because of the internet."
Almost 4,000 attempts to ban books have been recorded over the past eight years, though the ALA believes the figure is a gross understatement. All cases are voluntarily reported, and many more are likely to go unrecorded, sometimes because librarians have been threatened with dismissal if they sound the alarm. Most would-be censors are parents concerned about their children's reading or members of religious groups. The most common complaint is against books with explicit sexual content or offensive language.