ALA attempts to keep track of the number of challenges to materials each year and posts the list on their website. The book that tops the list for 2006 is And Tango Makes Three, which is a children's book about two male penguins that take turns sitting on an egg at the zoo. The book is based on a true story that occurred at the Central Park Zoo in 1998. The complaint made regarding the book claims that it promotes homosexuality. In reality, the book simply tells a true story about cute chinstrap penguins that most children will find entertaining. You can see the Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2006 here.
According to ALA, the number of books challenged in 2006 was 546, which is 30% higher than the total for 2005. The mid-1990s saw challenges topping over 750. It's important to keep in mind that these are just the challenges that are reported. There are many more challenges that go unreported each year for various reasons. Another interesting point regarding challenges is the fact that many people making complaints have never read the book or have not read the entire book. They are simply going on hearsay or passages taken out of context.
It's no surprise that the front-runner for most challenged book for 2007 is another children's book, The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron, which won the Newberry Medal for the best children's book of the year. The complaints regarding Ms. Patron's book are based on one anatomically-correct word used early in the story.
With a few unfortunate exceptions, most people want to protect children. As a parent myself, I have always wanted to protect my children from harm. However, well-intentioned protection can quickly turn into sheltering, which is not healthy. Children have to be taught to deal with reality in a world that is quickly becoming more diverse on a daily basis. No matter what we do, they are going to be faced with situations that we may personally find offensive or that are in contradiction to our values and beliefs. I've found that the best way to handle those situations is to be honest and open with children and let them know that there are many different people in the world and that they are going to have to learn to live among and work with them.
As always, this is just one librarian's opinion. Thankfully, we still live in a country in which we are all entitled to that basic human right.