The Seventies: Children, Teens, and Parents

During the 1970s, as with the media and pop culture general, increasing sexual candor found its way into literature for children and young adults. This new openness was not without controversy. Confronting issues such as religion, divorce, sexuality and growing up, Judy Blume’s young adult books are — even today, decades after their original publication — among the most challenged or banned books in libraries and schools. Even Maurice Sendak’s vividly illustrated In the In Night Kitchen (1970) is commonly challenged due to child nudity and, what is perceived by some, as sexual innuendo in the plot and illustrations.

The American Library Association Office of Intellectual Freedom monitors reports from around the country of attempts to ban books from libraries and schools. A “challenge” means that a formal, written complaint was filed with the library or school requesting that material be removed from the collection or reading list. The most commonly cited reason for challenging a book is the “sexually explicit” nature of the material. Other reasons cited are “offensive language,” “violence,” and “homosexuality.”