Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries in the USA.
Since then, according to the American Library Association, more than 11,000 books have been challenged.
These 50 titles have been compiled by the ALA. For more banned books, visit the ALA website.
J.K. Rowling | Harry Potter (series)
Beginning with “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” published in 1997, this series of seven novels dominated both bestseller lists and the imaginations of readers across the globe. At the same time, controversy over magic and witchcraft in the stories prompted frequent book banning attempts, and even book burnings. In 2002, the books were proposed for removal, along with more than fifty other titles, by a teachers’ prayer group at the high school in Russell Springs, Kentucky, because they dealt with ghosts, cults, and witchcraft. That same year, a federal judge overturned restricted access to “Harry Potter” after parents of a Cedarville, Alaska, fourth-grader filed a lawsuit challenging the requirement that students present written permission from a parent to borrow the books. The novels were originally challenged because they characterised authority as “stupid” and portrayed “good witches and good magic.”
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor | Alice (series)
With her “Alice” series, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor documents the life of Alice McKinley from childhood into adolescence and beyond. Many books in the series have been challenged, as Alice deals with issues of family, relationships, religion, sex, and more as she grows and matures. In 1997, “All but Alice” was restricted to students with parental permission at the Monroe Elementary School library in Thorndike, Maine. It was also removed from the District 196 elementary school libraries in Rosemont-Apple Valley-Eagan, Minnesota, because of a brief passage in which the seventh-grade heroine discusses sexually-oriented rock lyrics with her father and older brother; the school board considered the book inappropriate for the ages of the students.
Robert Cormier | The Chocolate War | 1974
In 1988, “The Chocolate War” was challenged by a middle school principal in West Hernando, Florida, who recommended the novel be removed from the school library shelves for being “inappropriate.” Published in 1974, Cormier’s novel tackled the problem of bullying at a time when this issue was not widely discussed. Frequently challenged for the violence, teen sexuality, “foul language,” and less-than-flattering portrayal of school culture it depicts, “The Chocolate War” follows a high school student who stands up to pressure and intimidation from his fellow students and teachers.
Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell | And Tango Makes Three | 2005
“And Tango Makes Three” is a picture book based on a true story of two male penguins that adopted an egg at New York City’s Central Park Zoo in the late 1990s. In 2006, it was moved from the children’s fiction section to children’s nonfiction at two Rolling Hill’s Consolidated Library branches in Savannah and St. Joseph, Missouri, after parents complained it had homosexual undertones. It was also challenged at the Shiloh, Illinois, Elementary School library, where a committee of school employees and a parent suggested the book be moved to a separate shelf, requiring parent permission before checkout. The school’s superintendent, however, rejected the proposal and the book remained on open library shelves. “Tango” ranked as ALA’s most frequently challenged book for a record four years in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2010.
John Steinbeck | Of Mice and Men | 1937
Published in 1937, “Of Mice and Men” was the target of numerous complaints in 1991. The novella was challenged as curriculum material at the Ringgold High School in Carroll Township, Pennsylvania, because it contains terminology offensive to blacks. It was deemed “indecent,” removed, and later returned to the Suwannee, Florida, High School library. At the Jacksboro, Tennessee High School, it was challenged for containing “blasphemous” language, excessive cursing, and sexual overtones. The book was also challenged as required reading in the Buckingham County, Virginia, schools that year because of profanity. Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962 and “Of Mice and Men” is one of his most widely-known and acclaimed works.
Maya Angelou | I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings | 1969
In 1983, four members of the Alabama State Textbook Committee called for the rejection of “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” claiming the work preaches “bitterness and hatred toward white people and encourages deviant behaviour because of references to lesbianism, premarital sex and profanity.” Maya Angelou’s autobiography, published in 1969 and nominated for a National Book award in 1970, details the poet’s early years and illustrates the power of literature in surviving trauma and adversity. Angelou’s numerous awards and honours include the National Medal of Arts in 2000 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.
Alvin Schwartz | Scary Stories (series)
In 1990, “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” was challenged in the Livonia, Michigan, schools because the poems were thought to frighten first grade children. Written by Schwartz and illustrated by Stephen Gammell, “Scary Stories” was followed by “More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” and “Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones.” All three titles have been challenged due to objections about the content and illustrations for children.
Philip Pullman | His Dark Materials (series)
“Northern Lights,” published as “The Golden Compass” in North America, is the first in Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy of fantasy novels for young readers. In 2007, it was pulled from the St. John Neumann Middle and Lourdes High School in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, because of concerns about what critics call its “anti-Christian message.” It was also challenged at the Conkwright Middle School in Winchester, Kentucky, because the main character drinks wine and ingests poppy with her meals, and for anti-Christian doctrine. It was challenged at the Shallowater Middle School in Lubbock, Texas, and pulled from library shelves at Ortega Middle School in Alamosa, Colorado, in both cases due to “anti-religious messages.” Similar concerns prompted the Catholic League, a Roman Catholic anti-defamation organisation in the US, to urge parents to boycott a movie version of the book that was released in December 2007. “Northern Lights” won the prestigious Carnegie Medal in 1995 and was voted the all-time “Carnegie of Carnegies” in 2007.
Lauren Myracle | ttyl; ttfn; l8r g8r (series)
Published in 2004, “ttyl” was the first book written entirely in the format of instant messaging — the title itself is a shorthand reference to “talk to you later” — and is the first book in Myracle’s “Internet Girls” series for young adults. It was challenged, but retained, in 2010 at the Ponus Ridge Middle School library in Norwalk, Connecticut. Critics labelled its style as “grammatically incorrect” and objected to its language, sexual content, and questionable sexual behaviour. “ttyl” ranked as ALA’s most frequently challenged book in 2009 and 2011.
Stephen Chbosky | The Perks of Being a Wallflower | 1999
In 2009, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower was challenged on the Wyoming, Ohio, high school district’s suggested reading list and restricted to juniors and seniors at the William Byrd and Hidden Valley high schools in Roanoke, Virginia. In a complaint that grew to include scores of young adult titles and attracted significant media attention, it was also challenged at the West Bend, Wisconsin, Community Memorial Library as being “obscene or child pornography.” The library board ultimately voted to retain the book, “without removing, relocating, labelling, or otherwise restricting access.” Published in 1999, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” contains references to drug use, homosexuality, and suicide, and has drawn comparisons to “Catcher in the Rye” as an iconic novel of adolescent alienation.
Walter Dean Myers | Fallen Angels | 1988
In 1999, “Fallen Angels” was removed from the Laton, California, Unified School District because the novel about the Vietnam War contains violence and profanity. The same year, it was removed as required reading in the Livonia, Michigan, public schools because it was found to contain “too many swear words.” Set amidst the horror of war, this young adult novel confronts the realities of violence and racism in 1960s America and in the military. “Fallen Angels” received the 1988 Coretta Scott King Award, for outstanding African American culture and universal human values.
Robie Harris | It’s Perfectly Normal | 1994
“It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health” was published in 1994 and has faced intense criticism for its frank discussions and illustrations of the changes young people experience during puberty. In 2005, it was challenged but retained at the Holt Middle School parent library in Fayetteville, Aarkansas, despite a parent’s complaint that it was sexually explicit. It also topped ALA’s list of frequently challenged books in 2005. Two years later, the book would make national news when a woman objecting to its content in Lewiston, Maine, checked out copies of the book and refused to return them, prompting such headlines as, “Grandma Refuses to Return Library Book, Could Face Jail Time.”
Dav Pilkey | Captain Underpants (series)
The “Captain Underpants” series of children’s books was removed from the Maple Hill School in Naugatuck, Connecticut, in 2000, due to concerns that they caused unruly behaviour among children. The books were also challenged but retained at the Orfordville, Wisconsin, Elementary School library. A parent charged that they taught students to be disrespectful; not to obey authority; not to obey the law, including God’s law; improper spelling; to make excuses and lie to escape responsibility; to make fun of what people wear; and poor nutrition. The “Captain Underpants” books effectively use humour and illustrations to captivate young readers, particularly “reluctant readers” who may not otherwise enjoy reading, and inspire with their stories of ingenuity and imagination.
Mark Twain | The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn | 1884
Since its publication in 1884, “Huck Finn” has been the subject of intense criticism and also acclaim. Initially dismissed by some for its “coarse” vernacular language, the book faced new objections to its racial language and themes. In May 1996, a class action lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Phoenix, alleging that the district deprived minority students of educational opportunities by requiring racially offensive literature (including “Huck Finn”) as part of class assignments. Today, “Huck Finn” remains a classic contribution to American literature and is often ranked among the truly great American novels.
Toni Morrison | The Bluest Eye | 1970
“The Bluest Eye” was pulled from an eleventh grade classroom at Lathrop High School in Fairbanks, Alaska, in 1994 by school administrators because “it was a very controversial book; it contains a lot of very graphic descriptions and lots of disturbing language.” The same year, it was challenged at the West Chester, Pennsylvania, schools as “most pornographic” and banned from the Morrisville, Pennsylvania, Borough High School English curriculum, after complaints about its sexual content and objectionable language. “The Bluest Eye” is among the best known works of distinguished author Toni Morrison, whose awards and honours include the Nobel Prize in 1993 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.
Judy Blume | Forever | 1975
In 1987, “Forever” was challenged at the Moreno Valley, California, Unified School District libraries for “profanity, sexual situations, and themes that allegedly encourage disrespectful behaviour.” It was challenged in the same year at the Marshwood Junior High School classroom library in Eliot, Maine, because the book “does not paint a responsible role of parents;” its “cast of sex minded teenagers is not typical of high schoolers today;” and because the “pornographic sexual exploits (in the book) are unsuitable for junior high school role models.” Blume’s 1975 novel offers a frank consideration of teenage relationships and sexuality that was unprecedented for its time. Beyond the significant controversy over “Forever,” Blume became a frequently challenged author for her many works exploring difficult subjects — including menstruation, bullying, and divorce — that face young adults.
Alice Walker | The Color Purple | 1982
Alice Walker’s epistolary tale of sexism, racism and poverty in rural Georgia was challenged dozens of times since 1984 and removed or banned from at least five school libraries across the United States between 1984 and 2010. In 1984, the book was challenged in a high school honours class in Oakland, California due to the work’s “sexual and social explicitness” and its “troubling ideas about race relations, man’s relationship to God, African history, and human sexuality.” Though it remains unclear what “social explicitness” actually means, these and other so-called “troubling ideas” certainly seem to warrant a healthy dose of censorship.
Anonymous | Go Ask Alice | 1971
Challenged as a reading assignment at Hanahan Middle School in Berkeley County, South Carolina, because of blatant, explicit language using street terms for sex, talk of worms eating body parts, and blasphemy. The anonymously written 1971 book is about a fifteen-year-old girl who gets caught up in a life of drugs and sex before dying from an overdose. Its explicit references to drugs and sex have been controversial since it was first published.
J.D. Salinger | Catcher in the Rye | 1951
Published in 1951 as a novel for adults, “Catcher in the Rye” gained popularity with young adult readers for its consideration of teenage disillusionment and rebellion. Controversy around the book — particularly its vulgar or “blasphemous” language, sexual content, and references to alcohol and cigarettes — began soon after its publication and has continued. In 2001, “Catcher in the Rye” was removed by a Dorchester District 2 school board member in Summerville, South Carolina, who believed it to be “a filthy, filthy book.” The same year, it was challenged by a Glynn County, Georgia, school board member because of profanity, but was retained. “Catcher in the Rye” remains a classic of American literature and is widely regarded as one of the great novels of the 20th century.
Linda De Haan | King and King | 2000
The book was restricted to adults at the Freeman Elementary School in Wilmington, North Carolina, because the children’s book is about a prince whose true love turns out to be another prince. It was moved from the children’s section to the adult section at the Shelbyville–Shelby County, Indiana, Public Library because the book’s homosexual story was considered inappropriate by a parent. Seventy Oklahoma state legislators called for the book to be removed from the children’s section and placed in the adult section of the Metropolitan Library System in Oklahoma City.
Harper Lee | To Kill a Mockingbird | 1960
Published in 1960, “To Kill a Mockingbird” ranks among the true classics of modern American literature and explores complex themes of justice and compassion. It has also faced significant controversy due to its consideration of challenging issues such as rape and racial inequality. The book was challenged in Moss Point, Mississippi, and at the Santa Cruz, California, Schools because of its racial themes. It was removed from the Southwood High School Library in Caddo Parish, Lousiana, because its language and content were found objectionable. “To Kill a Mockingbird” received the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and Harper Lee was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007.
Cecily von Ziegesar | Gossip Girl | 2002
The “Gossip Girl” series of young adult novels detail the lives and loves of privileged New York high school students. First published in 2002, they did not generate significant controversy until the 2007 premiere of a popular television series based on the books. In 2008, “Gossip Girl” was challenged at the Leesburg, Florida, Public Library because of sexual innuendo, drug references, and other adult topics. Parents, churches, and community leaders called for the novels’ removal, along with numerous other “provocative” books available to teens at the library. City commissioners voted to separate all books based on age groups. “Gossip Girl” and other books for high-school readers were subsequently moved to a separate area in the library stairwell.
Lois Lowry | The Giver | 1993
In 2003, “The Giver” was challenged as suggested reading for eighth-grade students in Blue Springs, Missouri, where parents called the book “lewd” and “twisted” and pleaded for it to be tossed out of the district. The book was reviewed by two committees and recommended for retention, but the controversy continued for more than two years. Lowry’s novel for young readers has frequently attracted objections due to its “mature themes” including suicide, sexuality, and euthanasia. “The Giver” received the Newbery Medal in 1994.
Maurice Sendak | In the Night Kitchen | 1970
In 1985, “In the Night Kitchen” was challenged at the Cunningham Elementary School in Beloit, Wisconsin, because the book was believed to desensitise children to nudity. In Sendak’s picture book, a young boy named Mickey falls out of his clothes as he travels through his dreams to the magical kitchen of the title. In addition to being challenged, “In the Night Kitchen” was frequently defaced by those who objected to Mickey’s nudity and drew diapers or pants over Sendak’s images. The book was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1971.
Lois Duncan | Killing Mr. Griffin | 1978
Killing Mr. Griffin is a 1978 suspense novel by Lois Duncan about a group of teenage students at a New Mexico high school who plan to kidnap their strict English teacher, Mr. Griffin. Some people have objected to including Killing Mr. Griffin in schools and libraries. The novel was 64th in ALA’s list of most frequently challenged books from 1990–1999, and 25th in its list of most challenged/banned books from 2000–2009. According to the ALA, Killing Mr. Griffin was the fourth most challenged book of 2000 for “violence and sexual content”.
Toni Morrison | Beloved | 1987
It was challenged on the Fairfax County, Va., senior English reading list by a parent claiming “the book includes scenes of violent sex, including a gang rape, and was too graphic and extreme for teenagers.” The controversy led to legislation (House Bill 516) that calls for the Virginia Department of Education to create a policy that notifies parents of the content and then allows them to review the materials. The novel is inspired by the story of an African-American slave, Margaret Garner, who escaped slavery in Kentucky in late January 1856 by fleeing to Ohio, a free state. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988, was a finalist for the 1987 National Book Award, and was adapted into a 1998 movie of the same name starring Oprah Winfrey. A New York Times survey of writers and literary critics ranked it the best work of American fiction from 1981 to 2006.
James Lincoln Collier | My Brother Sam Is Dead | 1974
The Meekers are typical of many uncommitted or nonpartisan families who were affected in a very personal way by the American Revolutionary War. The agony of their involvement is revealed through the eyes of Tim, who sees his brother, Sam, join the continentals and watches helplessly as events move toward the tragic and ironic climax. The book is remarkable for its mature and unromantic view of history and for its forceful portrayal of the effects of war on people caught between two unrelenting political forces.
Katherine Paterson | Bridge to Terabithia | 1977
Paterson’s novel for young people was challenged in 1986 as recommended reading for 6th grade students in the Lincoln, Nebraska, schools. Parents objected to the book’s “profanity” including the phrase “Oh, Lord” and use of “Lord” used as an expletive. “Bridge to Terabithia” won the Newbery Award for children’s literature in 1978. It tells the story of two 5th graders’ creation of a magical world far removed from their daily lives, and details the joys and sorrows of childhood, particularly the power of friendship and imagination.
Caroline B. Cooney | The Face on the Milk Carton | 1990
The Face on the Milk Carton is a young adult novel written by author Caroline B Cooney and first published in 1990. It was the ALA’s 29th most challenged book 2000-2009. In 2008, it was challenged, but retained in the Columbia, Missouri, Paxton Keeley Elementary School library by a parent for not being age appropriate and for not containing “coping skills” in the light of the emotional tragedy.
Robert Cormier | We All Fall Down | 1991
Published in 1991, We All Fall Down is a suspense novel for young adults by Robert Cormier. In 1988, a parent in Simcoe County, Ontario, complained to their children’s school board about We All Fall Down, because she believed the violence in the novel was inappropriate for children to read in school. The school board moved the novel from the primary schools to the high schools in that district, though the parent remained unsatisfied. In November 2000, parents in Tamaqua, Pennsylvania, complained about We All Fall Down because of the violence in several scenes, as well as the description of suicide in the book. Officials in the school district created a new book selection policy in response to the parents’ objections. In March 2000, We All Fall Down was removed from the Carver Middle School in Leesburg, Florida, because parents of a sixth-grader who was studying the book were unhappy with the language used in the novel. The father of the student, said, “It’s not a book for school. It’s everything negative about society, like rape, vulgarity, alcohol abuse, murder and how to cover it up.” The principal of the middle school agreed, and the book was removed from the school library. The principal also held a faculty meeting to advise staff to look carefully at the books they are assigning to children. The principal even contacted other middle schools in the district to warn them of the challenged novel. On March 17, 2000, an Arlington, Texas, Independent School District superintendent ordered the library circulation of We All Fall Down to be restricted, requiring students to bring written permission from their parents in order to borrow it. The superintendent did this in response to a complaint from a parent regarding violence in the book. The book was not removed completely, because a panel of school librarians made a decision to retain it in middle and high schools.
Sonya Sones | What My Mother Doesn't Know | 2001
Challenged at the Bonnette Junior High School library in Deer Park, Texas, because the book includes foul language and references to masturbation. The book was selected as a “Best Book for Young Adults,” by ALA in 2002; “Young Adults Choice,” by the International Reading Association in 2003; and included on the Texas Lone Star State Reading List.
Rudolfo Anaya | Bless Me, Ultima | 1972
Pulled by the Norwood, Colorado, Schools superintendent after two parents complained about profanity in the book. The superintendent confiscated all of the copies of the book and gave them to the parents, who “tossed them in the trash.” The superintendent later apologised. Students organised an all-day sit-in at the school gym. President George W. Bush awarded Anaya the National Media of Arts in 2002. First Lady Laura Bush has listed the book as ninth on a list of twelve books that she highly recommends.
David Guterson | Snow Falling on Cedars | 1994
Challenged in the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, School District in 2007. Some parents say the book, along with five others, should require parental permission for students to read them.
Carolyn Mackler| The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things | 2003
Banned by the Carroll County Superintendent in Westminster, Maryland, in 2006, but after protests from students, librarians, national organisations, and the publisher, the book was returned to the high school libraries, but not middle schools. The superintendent objected to the book’s use of profanity and its sexual references. The book was named the 2004 Michael L. Printz Honor Book, the American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults, and the International Reading Association’s 2005 Young Adults’ Choice, among other accolades.
Louise Rennison | Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging | 1999
Challenged in the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, School District in 2007. Some parents say the book, along with five others, should require parental permission for students to read them.
Aldous Huxley | Brave New World | 1932
Cloning, feel good drugs, anti-aging… headlines out of today’s newspapers? This 1932 “classic” of an utopian future has all the timeliness of the 21st century. Reasons: insensitivity, nudity, racism, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit. Banned in Ireland (1932). Removed from classroom in Miller, Missouri, in 1980, because it made promiscuous sex “look like fun” and challenged frequently throughout the US. Challenged as required reading at the Yukon, Oklahoma, High School in 1988 because of “the book’s language and moral content.” Challenged as required reading in the Corona-Norco, California, Unified School District (1993) because it is “centred around negative activity.” Specifically, parents objected that the characters’ sexual behaviour directly opposed the health curriculum, which taught sexual abstinence until marriage. The book was retained, and teachers selected alternatives if students object to Huxley’s novel. Brave New World was again challenged in Foley, Alabama, in 2000 because of the depictions of “orgies, self-flogging, suicide” and characters who show “contempt for religion, marriage, and the family.” The book was removed from the library, pending review.
Robie Harris | It’s So Amazing | 1999
Relocated from the young adult to the adult section of the Fort Bend County Libraries in Richmond, Texas, in 2003. The same title was recently moved to the restricted section of the Fort Bend School District’s media centres after a resident sent an e-mail message to the superintendent expressing concern about the book’s content. The Spirit of Freedom Republican Women’s Club petitioned the superintendent to have it, along with It’s Perfectly Normal: A Book about Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health, moved because they contain “frontal nudity and discussion of homosexual relationship and abortion.” Restricted, but later returned to general circulation shelves with some limits on student access, based on a review committee’s recommendations, at the Holt Middle School parent library in Fayetteville, Arkansas, in 2005 despite a parent’s complaint that it was sexually explicit. Relocated to the reference section of the Northern Hills Elementary school media centre in Onalaska, Wisconsin, in 2005 because a parent complained about its frank yet kid-friendly discussion of reproduction topics, including sexual intercourse, masturbation, abortion, and homosexuality.”
Michael Bellasiles | Arming America | 2000
Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture is a discredited 2000 book by historian Michael A. Bellesiles about American gun culture, an expansion of a 1996 article he published in the Journal of American History. Bellesiles, then a professor at Emory University, used fabricated research to argue that during the early period of US history, guns were uncommon during peacetime and that a culture of gun ownership did not arise until the mid-nineteenth century. In 2003 and 2004, the book was one of the ALA’s most challenged titles because of its inaccuracies and political viewpoint.
Mark Mathabane |Kaffir Boy | 1986
Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth’s Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa is Mark Mathabane’s 1986 autobiography about life under the South African apartheid regime. Kaffir Boy has been banned in a number of schools, one of these being the Lebanon, Pennsylvania, Cedar Crest High School, where the ban made headlines. The bans are due to a controversial scene involving child prostitution and sodomy, which some have referred to as “pornography,” sparking another headline defending the scene. While Mathabane wrote an article for the Washington Post stating that he would prefer it to be banned completely to being revised or censored, the author has since authorised a revised version for use in such schools. The unrevised book is still used as high school reading material regardless of the controversial scenes.
E.R. Frank | Life is Funny | 2000
Pulled from the shelves of two Merced, California, middle-school libraries in 2005 because of an “X-rated” passage describing two teens’ first experience with sexual intercourse.
Judy Blume | Blubber | 1974
Contested since 1980, Blume’s Blubber has been challenged because the bully is never punished. “Bad is never punished. Good never comes to the fore. Evil is triumphant.”
Avi | The Fighting Ground | 1984
The Fighting Ground is a 1984 young adult historical fiction novel written by Edward Irving Wortis, under his pen name, Avi. The book is about a 13-year-old boy named Jonathan who runs away to fight in the American Revolutionary War. Challenged but retained in 2000 in Conway, New Hampshire, by a “concerned Christian” as part of the John Fuller School curriculum. Banned from the Bay District school’s library shelves in Panama City, Florida, in 2008 after a parent noted several profanities uttered by some soldiers.
Chris Crutcher | Whale Talk | 2001
In 2005 and 2006, Whale Talk was removed from all five Limestone County, Alabama, high school libraries because of the book’s use of profanity. It was also removed from suggested reading list for a pilot English-literature curriculum by the superintendent of the South Carolina Board of Education. At this time, the book was also challenged at the Grand Ledge, Michigan, High School. In 2007 and 2008, Whale Talk was challenged at the Missouri Valley, Louisiana, High School because the book uses racial slurs and profanity as well as challenged as an optional reading in a bullying unit at the Lake Oswego, Oregon, Junior High School because the novel is “peppered with profanities, ranging from derogatory slang terms to sexual encounters and violence.”
Chris Crutcher | Athletic Shorts | 1991
Challenged at the Charleston County, South Carolina, School library in 1995 because the books deals with divorce, violence, AIDS, and homosexuality. Pulled from the elementary school collections, but retained at the middle school libraries in Anchorage, Alaska in 1999. A parent challenged the book of short stories because of the book’s lack of respect for parents and God, its treatment of homosexuality, and its bad language.
Jane Leslie Conly | Crazy Lady | 1993
Contested for offensive language, this novel tell the story of twelve-year-old Vernon’s initially reluctant, off-beat friendship with an alcoholic and her developmentally disabled son which has repercussions throughout the neighborhood, changing the lives of all involved.
Kurt Vonnegut | Slaughterhouse-Five| 1969
Challenged in many communities, but burned in Drake, North Dakota in 1973. Banned in Rochester, Michigan, because the novel “contains and makes references to religious matters” and thus fell within the ban of the establishment clause. An appellate court upheld its usage in the school in Todd v Rochester Community Schools, 41 Mich. App. 320, 200 N. W 2d 90 (I 972). Banned in Levittown, New York, in 1975, North Jackson, Ohio, in 1979, and Lakeland, Florida, in 1982 because of the “book’s explicit sexual scenes, violence, and obscene language.” Barred from purchase at the Washington Park High School in Racine, Wisconsin, in 1984 by the district administrative assistant for instructional services. Challenged at the Owensboro, Kentucky, High School library in 1985 because of “foul language, a section depicting a picture of an act of bestiality, a reference to ‘Magic Fingers’ attached to the protagonist’s bed to help him sleep, and the sentence: ‘The gun made a ripping sound like the opening of the fly of God Almighty.”‘ Restricted to students who have parental permission at the four Racine, Wisconsin, Unified District high school libraries (1986) because of “language used in the book depictions of torture, ethnic slurs, and negative portrayals of women:’ Challenged at the LaRue County, Kentucky, High School library (1987) because “the book contains foul language and promotes deviant sexual behaviour.” Banned from the Fitzgerald, Georgia, schools (1987) because it was filled with profanity and full of explicit sexual references. Challenged in the Baton Rouge, Lousiana, public high school libraries (1988) because the book is “vulgar and offensive’. Challenged in the Monroe, Michigan, public schools (1989) as required reading in a modem novel course for high school juniors and senior because of the book’s language and the way women are portrayed. Retained on the Round Rock, Texas, Independent High School reading list (1996) after a challenge that the book was too violent. Challenged as an eleventh grade summer reading option in Prince William County, Virginia, (1998) because the book “was rife with profanity and explicit sex.”
George Beard and Harold Hutchins | The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby | 2001
The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby is an American children’s novel by Dav Pilkey, credited as “George Beard and Harold Hutchins”, categorized as part of the author’s Captain Underpants series of books as a spin-off to the series. Challenged, but retained in 2004 in the Riverside, California, Unified School District classrooms and libraries despite a complaint of the book’s “inappropriate” scatological storyline. Banned from the Channelview, Texas, Independent School District because it contained the phrase “poo poo head” in 2012.
Alex Sanchez | Rainbow Boys | 2001
Challenged at the Montgomery County, Texas, Memorial Library System (2004) along with fifteen other young-adult books with gay-positive themes. The objections to the books were posted at the Library Patrons of Texas Web site. The language describing the books is similar to that posted at the Web site of the Fairfax County, Virginia-based Parents Against Bad Books in Schools, to which Library Patrons of Texas links.
Ken Kesey | One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest | 1962
Challenged in the Greenley, Colorado, public school district (1971) as a non-required American Culture reading. In 1974, five residents of Strongsville, Ohio, sued the board of education to remove the novel. Labelling it “pornographic,” they charged the novel “glorifies criminal activity, has a tendency to corrupt juveniles and contains descriptions of bestiality, bizarre violence, and torture, dismemberment, death, and human elimination.” Removed from public school libraries in Randolph, New York, and Alton, Oklahoma, (1975). Removed from the required reading list in Westport, Massashusetts, (1977). Banned from the St. Anthony, Idaho, Freemont High School classrooms (1978) and the instructor fired¾Fogarty v. Atchley. Challenged at the Merrimack, New Hampshire, High School (1982). Challenged as part of the curriculum in an Aberdeen, Washington, High School honours English class (1986) because the book promotes “secular humanism.” The school board voted to retain the title. Challenged at the Placentia-Yorba Linda, California, Unified School District (2000) after complaints by parents stated that teachers “can choose the best books, but they keep choosing this garbage over and over again.”
Khaled Hosseini | The Kite Runner | 2003
This critically acclaimed, multigenerational novel was challenged and banned because it includes sexual violence and was thought to “lead to terrorism” and “promote Islam.”