I thought today that it might be interesting to write about the topic of censorship and banned books instead of choosing a certain book to discuss. First and foremost, I am not advocating every child having access to every book. There are certain books my own daughters are capable of reading but not fully capable of understanding, hence they are not yet allowed to read them. That is my decision as a parent, and it’s not the same thing as a blanket ban on a book.
You’d be surprised how many children’s classics have been contested and banned in either schools or libraries. I did an Internet search for a list of the most commonly banned children’s books and came up with this from The American Library Association:
L. Frank Baum- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (promoting magic and cowardice)
Dahl, Roald- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (racism), James and the Giant Peach (smoking, violence, sexually explicit content), The Witches (misogyny)
Dr. Seuss- Hop on Pop, If I Ran the Zoo, Green Eggs and Ham (promoting homosexuality)
George, Jean Craighead- Julie of the Wolves
Hahn, Mary Downing- The Dead Man in Indian Creek
Hanford, Martin- Where’s Waldo? (partial nudity)
Henkes, Kevin- Olive’s Ocean
Kehret, Peg- Stolen Children
Kellogg, Steven- Pinkerton, Behave!
Kilodavis, Cheryl- My Princess Boy: A Mom’s Story About a Young Boy Who Loves to Dress Up (promoting homosexuality)
Kotzwinkle, William, and Glenn Murray- Walter the Farting Dog
L’Engle, Madeleine- A Wrinkle in Time (satanic themes)
Lowry, Lois- Anastasia Krupnik series
Lowry, Lois- The Giver
Mochizuki, Ken- Baseball Saved Us
Nelson, O.T.- The Girl Who Owned a City
Newman, Leslea. Heather Has Two Mommies (promoting same-sex lifestyle/marriage)
Park, Barbara- Junie B. Jones
Parr, Todd- The Family Book
Paterson, Katherine- Bridge to Terabithia (depicting death), The Great Gilly Hopkins (foul language)
Pilkey, Dav- The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby: The First Graphic Novel, Captain Underpants series (partial nudity and disrespectful to school officials)
Polacco, Patricia- In Our Mothers’ House (promoting same-sex relationships)
Rey, H.A.- Curious George (smoking)
Richardson, Justin, and Peter Parnell- And Tango Makes Three (based on a true story of two male penguins who hatched an egg together)
Rodgers, Mary- Freaky Friday
Rowling, J.K.- Harry Potter series (promoting use of magic)
Sachar, Louis- Marvin Redpost: Is He a Girl?
Schwartz, Alvin- Scary Stories series
Sendak, Maurice- In the Night Kitchen (nudity), Where the Wild Things Are (disrespectful child)
Silverstein, Shel- A Light in the Attic
Smith, Jeff- Bone series
Snyder, Zilpha Keatley- The Egypt Game
Speare, Elizabeth George- The Sign of the Beaver
Stine, R.L.- Goosebumps series
Taylor, Mildred D.- The Land, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
Telgemeier, Raina- Drama (promoting homosexuality)
Willhoite, Michael- Daddy’s Roommate (promoting homosexuality)
Winter, Jeanette. The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq, Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan
Yep, Laurence- Dragonwings
I cut the list down; these are titles I’m familiar with. If I know why the books are on the list, I’ve put it into parentheses. I also added a few books that I’ve heard of before.
Whether you see these books as harmless or not, the point I’m trying to get across is that what one person sees in a book, another may not. In America we are guaranteed freedom of speech, so it is not for me to choose what you can or cannot read.
If you are concerned about what your kids are reading, take the time to read or even skim the book in question. You are responsible for helping them choose books that meet your family’s values.