The 'Twilight' Book Series still part of Banned Books Week

The "Twilight" series, first published in 2005, is featured by the American Library Association for Banned Books Week, which runs this year from Sept. 25 to Oct. 2.

One of the most popular fictional series of the past five years, "Twilight" has the keen distinction of also being one of the American Library Association's Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2009. Writing about the supernatural is a surefire way to find your books banned. Fantasy, vampires magic, the supernatural and even science-fiction books are grouped in with Satanism, the occult and witchcraft by those who attempt to have the books removed from library shelves.

Vampires are easy targets for book banning, as the banning of the "Vampire Academy" in Texas proves. Even with its vast popularity and cross-marketing machine (from books to movies, game boards and school supplies), the "Twilight" series by Stephenie Meyer has been challenged and either banned or returned to school library bookshelves.

For similar reasons, Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein," J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" and the Harry Potter series have all been banned or challenged at one time.

The "Twilight" series begins with a simple romantic premise as familiar as the tale of "Romeo and Juliet:" Two young teens with different backgrounds, who should not be together, fall in love. Make one the new girl in school and the other a vampire, add exploratory thoughts about death and sexual desire, tons of adjectives and adverbs and you have the new teen sensation.

The Twilight series has been challenged for being "unsuited to age group," "sexually explicit" and because of its "religious viewpoint," according to the ALA.

Specific challenges and bans include:

* In September 2008, the "Twilight" books were temporarily removed from and later returned to middle-school libraries in the Capistrano Unified School District in California. It was the district's instructional materials specialist who initially "ordered" the books removed. (More information.)

* In May 2009, the series was challenged at Brockbank Junior High in Magna, Utah. A parent complained about the "over sexual content" in the novel "Breaking Dawn," which is part of the series. (More information.)

* In September 2009, "Twilight" was banned from library at Santa Sabina College Strathfield in Australia for being "too racy," according to Library and Information Science News. The "Twilight" series was removed from "schools because they believe the content is too sexual and goes against religious beliefs," according to Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom in November 2009 (More information.)

The "Twilight" series has achieved popular, financial and critical success. The first book in the series hit The New York Times Best Seller list within a month of being released.

The first book in the series -- also called "Twilight" -- has sold 17 million copies worldwide and earned a number of awards, including The New York Times Editor's choice. It is also included on these lists:

* Best Children's Books of 2005 and "Best Book of the Year" by Publisher's Weekly

* Best Books of 2005 by School Library Journal

* The Top Books of 2008 from USA Today

The rest of the books in the series continue to receive accolades and set sales records:

* "New Moon" (2006) received the Young Reader's Choice Award in 2009.

* "Eclipse" (2007) sold more than 4.5 millions copies and was in a top-five selling book of 2008.

* "Breaking Dawn" (2008) broke a first-day sales record, selling 1.3 million copies in its first day, according to Hachette Book Group USA.


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