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Banned Books



"I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."
-Voltaire

The books on this list have been banned in various parts of the world for a variety of reasons. 

1984 by George Orwell
Challenged: numerous times on the grounds that it 
contains communist and sexual content. This book was challenged in Jackson County, Florida 
(1981) because the novel is “pro-communist and contains explicit sexual matter.”

A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen
Rejected by four members of the Alabama State Textbook Committee (1983) because it propagates femminist views."

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
excluded from children’s room in the 
Brooklyn, New York public library (1876) and the Denver, Colorado public library (1876). 
Removed: from the 7th grade curriculum in the West Chester, Pennsylvania schools 
(1994) because “it is too full of racially charged language.”


All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
Banned: for "obscenity" in Chicago and Boston, in Austria and Czechoslovakia (1929)
Banned: in Italy (1933)
Burned: in Germany (1933)


The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
A school district in Florida restricted the book in middle school libraries on the grounds that the work condones a racist view of white people and is a "how-to manual" for crime.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
ChallengedAutobiographical work that traces the poet's nervous breakdown, in the Illinois school district, on grounds that it contains sexual material and condones a "objectionable" viewpoint.


Black Boy by Richard Wright
Challenged: in Texas on the grounds that “the author 
is a Communist.” A New York school district restricted the novel to students with parental permission in 1976, but the restriction was lifted after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling (1982).


The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison 
A Pulitzer prize-winning author, was pulled from a 
high school in Alaska in 1994 and cited for being too “controversial.” The novel was both challenged and banned in Pennsylvania in 1994, and faced challenges in both Florida and Massachusetts due to the book’s sexual content.


Candide by Voltaire
The critically acclaimed satire, was declared obscene by U.S. Customs (1929) and seized (1930). At the time, the book was an assigned text at Harvard, and was defended by two professors. The book was then permitted in a different edition. The U.S. Post Office demanded that a mail-order book catalog omit the book (1944).

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
was banned in Srongsville, Ohio (1972). It was challenged in 
Dallas, Texas (1974) and in Snoqualmie, Washington (1979) because of objectionable language.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
This book was removed from a locked reference collection at the Boulder, Colorado Public Library (1988) where it had been placed because the librarian thought the book espoused a poor philosophy of life.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Challenged: in Oakland, California high school honors class (1984) due to "sexual and social explicitness" and its "troubling ideas about race relations, man's relationship to God, African history and human sexuality."
Banned: In Souderton, Pennsylvania area schools district (1992) because "it is smut." It was removed from the Jackson County, West Virginia school libraries (1997).

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Challenged: Wise County, Virginia (1982) due to "sexually offensive" passages.  Four members of the Alabama State Textbook Committee (1983) called for the rejection of this book because it is s "read downer."  Anne Frank's diary of the Holocaust has been a target of frequent challenges.  

Flowers in the Attic by V.C Andrews
Challenged: Richmond, Rhode Island High School (1983) because it contains "offensive passages concerning incest and sexual intercourse."


Forever by Judy Blume
A favorite for girls and young teens, has frequently been the target of censors. This story is about the sexual awakening of a teenage girl has been challenged since its publication (1975) because it "does not promote abstinence and monogamous relationships." It was challenged by Midvalley Junior-Senior Scranton, Pennsylvania High School Library (1982) and by Orlando, Florida schools (1982) and Akron, Ohio school district libraries (1983) for using "four-letter words" and for talking about birth control and disobedience to parents.

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Banned: Anaheim, California Union High School District English classrooms (1978). 
Challenged: Waukegan, Illinois school district (1984) because of racist language.


Grendel by John C. Gardner
Challenged: Douglas, Colorado High School reading lists (1997) because the novel was "too obscene and violent" for high school students.


 The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Challenged: Waterloo, Iowa schools (1992) because of profanity, lurid passages about sex, and statements defamatory to minorities God, women, and disabled. Downgraded from "required" to "optional" on the summer reading list for 11th graders in the Upper Moreland, Pennsylvania School District (2000) due to "age-inappropriate" subject matter.


The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
Challenged: Laytonville, California Unified School District (1989) because it "criminalizes the foresting industry."


Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Challenged: Duval County, Florida public school libraries (1992) because of profanity, lurid passages about sex and statements defamatory to minorities, God, women, and the disabled. It was challenged, but retained on the ninth-grade accelerated English reading list in Bloomfield, New York (2000).

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
Challenged but retained in the Columbus, Ohio schools (1993) because the "language was degrading to blacks, and is sexually explicit." Removed from required reading lists and library shelves in the Richmond County, Georgia school district (1994). Challenged at the St. Johns County Schools in Augusta, Florida (1995). Removed from St. Mary's County, Maryland schools' approved text list (1998) by the school superintendent over the objections of the faculty.


To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Challenged and temporarily banned ion Eden Valley, Minnesota (1977). It was challenged at the Warren independent Township schools (1981) because the book "represents institutionalized racism under the guise of good literature." After unsuccessfully banning the novel, three parents resigned from the township human relations advisory council.  It was also banned in Lindale, Texas from the advanced placement English reading list (1996) because the book "conflicted with the values of the community." This novel has been repeatedly challenged and banned in numerous states on the grounds that it "contains profanity and racial slurs."

Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
Removed from a Merrimack, New Hampshire high school English class (1996) because of a policy that bans instruction which has "the effect of encouraging or supporting homosexuality as a positive lifestyle alternative."


Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Challenged in the Waukegan, Illinois school district (1994) because the novel contains the word "nigger."


Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
A teacher was dismissed for assigning this book to her 11th grade English class.  The teacher brought suit and won in Parducci v. Rutland, 316 F.Supp.352, (1970).

A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
Challenged: At the Cunningham Elementary School in Beloit, Wisconsin (1985) because the book "encourages children to break dishes so they won't dry them."
Removed: Minot, North Dakota Public School libraries when the superintendent found "suggestive illustrations."
Challenged: Big Bend Elementary School Library in Mukwongo, Wisconsinm (1986) because some the poems "glorified Satan, suicide and cannibalism, and also encourages children to be disobedient."

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Banned: Concord, Massachusetts (1885) as "trash and suitable only for slums." This fictional work was 
excluded from the children’s room of the Brooklyn Public Library (1905) on the grounds that 
“Huck not only itched but scratched, and said sweat when he should have said perspiration.” 
Removed: Waukegan, Illinois high school reading list (1984) because of “racially offensive language and tone.” 
Removed from classrooms in the Cherry Hill, New Jersey schools (1997) after concerns were raised about its “racial epithets” and “depiction of its African-American characters.” Huck Finn was also pulled from reading lists at three Renton, Washington high schools (2004) after an African-American student said the book degraded her and her culture. Ironically, this book which was attacked after its first publication for being “too racially tolerant” is now being attacked for being “too racist.” Twain’s classic was deemed upon publication as “rough, coarse and inelegant,” and not suited for “intelligent, respectable people.” 

The American Heritage Dictionary
Banned: Eldon, Missouri Library (1978) because it contained 39 "objectionable" words, and by the Anchorage School Board (1987) for having slang definitions for words such as "bed," "knockers," and "balls."


And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou
Removed: from the required reading list of Wake County High School juniors in Raleigh, North Carolina (1987) because of complications about a scene in which eight-year-old Maya is raped.


Beloved by Toni Morrison
Challenged: At the St. John's County schools in St. Augustine, Florida (1995) and by a member of the Madawaska, Maine School Committee (1997) because of the book's language.  This 1987 Pulitzer Prize winning novel had been required reading for advanced placement English classes.


Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
This novel has been accused of being anti-family and anti-Christian and has been challenged due to "language and moral content." It was removed from classrooms in Miller, Missouri (1980) and challenged at a Yukon, Oklahoma high school (1988). It was challenged as required reading in the Corona-Norco, California Unified School District (1993) because the book "centered around negative activity."


Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Winner of a Newbury Award has been removed from classrooms and libraries due to "profanity, disrespect of adults, and an elaborate fantasy world that might lead to confusion."

Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
This book was removed from a senior college preparatory 
class at the Eureka, Illinois high school (1995) for sexual content. Through the years, it has been subjected to revisions (starting 1928) in which many ‘four letter words’ were taken 
out. These bawdy tales were removed from an advanced literature course at an Illinois high school (1995) after parents deemed the sexual content in some of the tales “lewd and inappropriate.” Chaucer’s classic tales have weathered and endured six centuries of expurgation.

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
A novel that depicts a teenager's nervous breakdown, has been repeatedly banned and challenged for reasons such as "profanity," "sexual references," and the charge that it "undermines morality." The novel was cited as blasphemous (1983); "the book's contents" were cited as justifications to ban the book.

The Complete Fairy Tales of the Grimm Brothers by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
These renowned classic fairy tales, were restricted to sixth through eighth grade students at Kyrene, Arizona elementary schools (1994). The tales were accused of "excessive violence, negative portrayals of female characters, and anti-semitic references."

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
Challenged: Referred to as "junk" by parents of students in Somerset, Kentucky.

Earth Science (textbook)
Challenged: Plymouth-Canton school system in Canton, Michigan (1987) because it "teaches the theory of evolution exclusively.  It completely avoids any mention of Creationism...[and] the evolutionary propaganda also undermines the parental guidance and teaching the children are receiving at home and from the pulpit."

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Removed from the required reading list of the West Marion High School in Foxworth, Mississippi (1998) for profanity.  Students at the Venado Middle School in Irvine, California (1992) received copies of the book with words deemed to be "offensive" crossed out.  Students and parents protested, and after being contacted by the media, the school officials agreed to stop using the expurgated copies.  Ironically, this is a book about book-burning and censorship, with the message that books are banned for fear of creating too much individualism and independent thought.

Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
Removed from the Wall Township, New Jersey Intermediate School Library (1993) by the superintendent of schools because the book contains "inappropriate" language and "borders on pornography."

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Banned: by the St. Louis, Missouri public library (1939) on the grounds that "vulgar words" were used/  The library ordered three copies to be burned. It was banned in Kansas City, Missouri (1939); Kern County, California (1939); and Kanawha, Iowa high school classes (1980). It was challenged in Greenville, South Carolina schools (1991) because the book uses the name of God and Jesus in a "vain and profane manner, along with inappropriate sexual references."


The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
Retained on the summer reading lists for honors high school students at the Fairfield-Suisun unified District, California (2000) despite objections that the book is "immoral and sexually depraved."


I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Challenged: Often due to the poet's descriptions of being raped as a young girl and because it "preaches bitterness and hatred against whites." This autobiographical novel dealing with incest has been consistently challenged for containing profanity and pornographic language. The novel was accused by a Texas school of containing "gross evils." 


The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Challenged: Howard County, Maryland school system (1990) because it depicts "graphic violence, mysticism and gore."


My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
Challenged and accused of "violence and profanity."


Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Removed: Tennessee public schools (1984) when the School Board Chair promised to remove all "filthy books" from public school curricula and libraries. This classic was also banned from a public school in Ohio (1980).


Raisin in the Sun by Lorianne Hansberry
Restricted by Ogden. Utah school district (1979) in response to criticism from an anti-pornography organization.


Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Burned in Drake. north Dakota (1973). Banned in Rochester, Michigan because the novel "contains and makes references to religious matters" and thus fell within the ban the establishment clause. It was challenged at the Owensboro, Kentucky high school library (1985) because of "foul language", a reference to "Magic Fingers" attached to the protagonist's bed to help him sleep and because of the sentence: "The gun made a ripping sound like the opening of the fly of God Almighty."  


Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
Challenged at the West Allis-West Milwaukee, Wisconsin school libraries (1986) because the book "suggests drug use, the occult, suicide, death, violence, disrespect for truth, disrespect for legitimate authority, rebellion against parents." It was challenged at the Central Columbia School District in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania (1993) because a poem entitled "Dreadful" talks about how "someone ate the baby."

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Challenged in Polk City, Florida elementary school (1985) by a parent who believed that the story "promotes witchcraft, crystal balls and demons." It was challenged in the Anniston, Alabama schools(1990) because of the book's listing the name of Jesus Christ together with names of great artists, philosophers, scientists and religious leaders when referring to those who defend earth against evil.  It has been challenged for "sending a mixed signal about good and evil."

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