The Hunger Games movie may not have had trouble earning a PG-13 rating, but many parents and educators are wondering whether the best-selling book trilogy belongs on library shelves. The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom released its annual list of most frequently challenged books of 2011 yesterday, and the increased popularity of Suzanne Collins’ dystopian saga — in large part fueled by buzz surrounding the blockbuster film — drove the books higher on the list. In 2010, only the first novel cracked the top ten at number five. In 2011, all three books occupy the number three position, and the complaints have grown more varied: “anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence.”

The ALA keeps track of challenges filed and counted 326 reported attempts to restrict or remove books from schools and libraries in 2011. The association defines a challenge as “a formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that a book or other material be restricted or removed because of its content or appropriateness.”

Barbara Jones, director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, told the Associated Press that many of the complaints leveled against The Hunger Games books focused on the film version directed by Gary Ross. “There was complaining about the choice of actors for the film,” she said. “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.”

Lauren Myracle, a regular on these types of lists, came in at number one with her epistolary Internet Girl books. But the book that topped the list last year — And Tango Makes Three, about two male penguins who raise a baby chick together — didn’t crack the top ten. Jones said she’d like to believe that people are becoming more tolerant of homosexuality, but it may just be that other books are attracting more attention.

What do you think about the complaints against The Hunger Games books? “Violence,” I get, but can you see why anyone would call them “anti-family” or “anti-ethnic”?

Follow Stephan on Twitter: @EWStephanLee

Read more:

The Hunger Games
  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • Gary Ross