It’s Banned Books Week! To celebrate, here’s a list of twenty books that have been banned/censored for one reason or another!
I apologize for the weird formatting! It was fine in preview and then I published and it went all wonky and this was the only way it finally looked somewhat normal and readable. I tried everything I could think of it, but it wasn’t cooperating.
1) And Tango Make Three, Justin Richardson
And Tango Makes Three is a picture book based on a true story about two penguins, Roy and Silo, in the a Central Park Zoo who were given an egg to raise. The catch? Both penguins were male and this caused some issues who felt the homosexuality (even amongst penguins) was not appropriate for the readers. You can find out more about this wonderful book and the story behind it here.
Buy And Tango Makes Three on Amazon
2) Harry Potter Series, J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter is widely popular series all around the world and has been read by millions of people. However, that didn’t stop the controversy surrounding this book by people who believed these novels contained black magic.
Buy Harry Potter on Amazon
3) To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird is a story that explores racism and discrimination through the perspective of a young girl who grows up and realizes how unfair things are. This book has been banned and censored due to the profane language and adult themes (one of the main plot points of the novel is man accused of a rape he didn’t commit).
Buy To Kill a Mockingbird on Amazon
4) Eleanor and Park, Rainbow Rowell
A young adult novel that follows to misfit teenagers as they fall in love over a mutual liking for music and comics. Sounds like a really great young adult novel, but some people had issue with the book due to the profanity, some sexual language, and some have even called the book pornographic. Rainbow Rowell was actually asked what she thought about this and you can read the full interview here.
Buy Eleanor and Park on Amazon
5) On the Road, Jack Kerouac
On the Road is a novel based on the cross-America adventures of Kerouac and his friends. It’s a novel said to have defined the Beat Generation. So what could possibly be wrong with it? It’s a novel that defined an entire generation! Well, apparently when you combine “[profanity, misogynistic men, and immoral women]” it doesn’t matter what you define.
Buy On the Road on Amazon
6) A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess
A Clockwork Orange follows teenager, Alex, as he goes from violent youth to prisoner of a state determined to reform him. This book was banned from several schools due to so called “objectionable language”. A man was even arrested (not charged) for selling the book. Now, I haven’t read the novel yet, but I have seen the film and I’m not going to lie, I can understand why some people would have issue with this book (not enough to ban it, but still). It turns out that most of the controversy surrounding this book didn’t actually start until after the film came out.
Buy A Clockwork Orange on Amazon
7) Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
The novel takes places in a futuristic-America where books have been declared illegal and are burned when found. People have fought at different times to have this book banned due to the profane language (one school even blacked out all the words it declared as “obscene”). Pretty ironic when you think about.
Buy Fahrenheit 451 on Amazon
8) Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Paterson
This book is kind of similar to Eleanor and Park in the sense that it follows to lonely kids who become friends. However, unlike Eleanor and Park, Bridge to Terabithia ends with the death of a character. As this is a children’s book, this ends up being an introduction to death for many children. This caused some issues for parents because apparently they felt their kids were too young to know about death.
Buy Bridge to Terabithia on Amazon
9) Lord of the Flies, William Golding
Lord of the Flies is about a group of children who become stranded on an island and it really shows how quickly things can fall apart when there are no rules. Without anyone to dictate right and wrong, the children take it into their own hands. This book faced controversy due to the profanity and violence depicted by the children.
Buy Lord of the Flies on Amazon
10) Moby Dick, Herman Melville
Moby Dick follows a sailor who boards the ship of Captain Ahab, a man bent on getting revenge against Moby Dick, a whale who is the cause behind Ahab’s lost leg. I did a lot of research on this book why it was banned and all I could find was that it was banned from a school in Texas because it “conflicted with their community values”, but I can’t find what those values are.
Buy Moby Dick on Amazon
11) The Diary of Anne Frank, Anne Frank
Most people know who Anne Frank is. A young girl who hid for two years with her family while the Nazis occupied the Netherlands. This book was censored and banned in several schools due to sexual and inappropriate content. I’ve read this book and think it’s brilliant and moving and more truthful than anything I’ve ever read. And that’s because that’s exactly what it is. It’s a diary, it’s honest and truthful because it’s true.
Buy The Diary of Anne Frank on Amazon
12) Looking for Alaska, John Green
This young adult novel follows a boy who heads to boarding school to discover new things and leave behind his safe haven. This book has been banned in some school due to being “pornographic”. You can see John Green’s reaction to this statement in his vlogbrothers video.
Buy Looking for Alaska on Amazon
13) The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
J.D. Salinger’s novel is told from the perspective of protagonist, Holden Caulfield, who has become a sort of teenage icon for younger readers as he is surprising easy to relate to. This book deals with things such as angst, identity, and alienation. However, it is often censored from schools due to being obscene and undermining morality.
Buy The Catcher in Rye on Amazon
14) The Giver, Lois Lowry
Set in a dystopian society, this story follows thirteen year old Jonas who lives in a place where everyone has converted to “Sameness” so as to remove pain from their lives, though no one remembers this. Jonas discovers the state of their society and struggles to figure out what to do. This book has been banned for various reasons, from profanity to sexuality to violence.
Buy The Giver on Amazon
15) Alice‘s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll
Alice in Wonderland follows a young girl as she enters, you guessed it, Wonderland. Once there she meets an assortment of characters, from The Mad Hatter to The Queen of Hearts and encounters all sorts of crazy adventures. This book was once banned in China for depicting animals as being as smart as humans.
Buy Alice in Wonderland on Amazon
16) One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey
This book is set in a psychiatric hospital and through the eyes of the narrator, Bromden, we see the antics caused by another patient, Randle Patrick McMurphy. A brilliant novel that examines institutions like this as well as the various behaviours of people, this novel is actually one of the most highly banned. Some have said it is pornographic or too violent, while others have just called the book garbage.
Buy One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest on Amazon
17) Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson
Told from the perspective of Melinda Sordino, a student who has been outcast by others after she called the police on a party. It is not initially revealed why she called the police, except the incident has caused her to stop speaking, communicating with others through art instead. This book has been banned due to be being considered pornographic.
Buy Speak on Amazon
18) The Color Purple, Alice Walker
This story follows the life of coloured women in Georgia and examines issues like them being considered lesser in society. This book has been banned and censored for being sexually explicit and containing homosexuality and profane language.
Buy The Color Purple on Amazon
19) The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein
A children’s picture book that depicts a friendship between a boy and a tree. It sounds really simple and I’m not going to lie, I don’t see how anyone could find something wrong with this book to ban it. However, the book has been called sexist and the young boy “predatory” because the boy takes from the tree, but never gives back. You can read more about this here.
Buy The Giving Tree on Amazon
20) Howl, Allen Ginsberg
Howl is a poem by Allen Ginsberg and has been called a great piece of literature in America. Like On the Road, it is related back to Beat Generation (Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac were actually friends. One of the characters in Kerouac’s novel, is based on Ginsberg). This book received a lot of controversy due to the fowl language and sexual nature contained in the poem. You can see the entire depiction of the trial in the film adaptation of Howl starring James Franco.
Buy Howl on Amazon
All the books on this list and the information related to them were found on Buzzfeed, Goodreads, and Banned Books Week. This was obviously a very short list and definitely does not contain all the books that have been banned or censored. For a longer list you can visit the American Library Association website.
Now, personally I don’t think any books should be banned. I think that if someone doesn’t want to read a book containing certain subject matter then just don’t read it. Simple as that. A lot of these books were actually protested against because they were going to be taught in schools and some parents didn’t want their child reading the book. I think there’s a pretty simple solution to this to: tell the school you don’t want your child reading that book so the school can find an alternative. Rather than protesting the book altogether because really, no one person gets to decide what the rest of the world reads.
What do you think? Should some books be banned or should people be allowed to decide for themselves?
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