How Well Do You Know Your Banned Books?

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    1. Scholastic ✓ “Holes” by Louis Sachar
    2. Aladdin Paperbacks ✓ “The View From Saturday” by E.L. Konigsburg
    1. Random House ✓ “The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norman Juster
    2. Trumpet Club ✓ “Bridge To Terabithia” by Katherine Paterson

    ✓ X “Bridge To Terabithia”

    In 2002, residents of Cromwell, CT, called the book “satanic” and “a danger to our children” and asked that it be banned from middle school libraries. Other censors have pointed to the protagonist Jess’ use of “Lord” as an expletive, Leslie’s refusal to go to church, and their indulgence in a fantasy world as promotion of secular humanism or the occult.

    Trumpet Club

    1. Pocket Books ✓ “The Perks Of Being A Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky
    2. Vintage ✓ “Push” by Sapphire
    1. Bloomsbury Publishing ✓ “The Virgin Suicides” by Jeffrey Eugenides
    2. Penguin Books ✓ “The Secret Life Of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd

    ✓ X “The Perks Of Being A Wallflower”

    Reasoning? Take your pick: It was challenged on a Tampa, FL reading list in 2013 because “it deals with sexual situations and drug use”; in New York, in 2011, for “deal[ing] graphically with teenage sex, homosexuality, and bestiality”; or, in Roanoke, VA, its “explicit descriptions… of suicide and masturbation.”

    Pocket Books

    1. Little, Brown and Company ✓ “Gossip Girl” by Cecily von Ziegesar
    2. Harry N. Abrams ✓ “ttyl” (Internet Girls series) by Lauren Myracle
    1. Delacorte ✓ “The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants” by Ann Brashares
    2. Little, Brown and Company ✓ “Twilight” by Stephenie Meyer

    ✓ X “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”

    The series about four friends and their shared pair of pants is squeaky clean enough to have pleased censors, readers, and readers’ parents, unlike “Twilight”, “Gossip Girl”, and “ttyl” (among which there wasn’t only sex, but also “offensive language,” “violence,” and “religious viewpoints.”)


    ✓ X Side boob!

    The image, from the 1987 debut, of a topless sunbather being startled with some water was enough to get the book (and subsequent volumes) banned from school libraries across the country. The biggest problem? If you look closely at the side boob — which measures 1/16” in the actual book, so get real close — it apparently looks like a small black dot is an erect nipple.

    1. William Morrow ✓ “Freakonomics” by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
    2. Owl Books ✓ “Nickel and Dimed” by Barbara Ehrenreich
    1. Back Bay Books ✓ “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell
    2. The Penguin Press ✓ “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan

    ✓ X “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By In America”

    Barbara Ehrenreich’s look at low-wage America was unsuccessfully challenged after it was placed on an AP English reading list in Easton, PA for being “faddish,” of “no moral value,” and “obscene.”

    Owl Books

    1. Scholastic ✓ “Captain Underpants” (series) by Dav Pilkey
    2. Little, Brown ✓
    1. Scholastic ✓ “The Hunger Games” (series) by Suzanne Collins
    2. Vintage ✓ “Fifty Shades Of Grey” (series) by E.L. James

    ✓ X “Captain Underpants”

    With its offensive language (the villain is called “Mean Old Mr. Krupp,” plus there are multiple references to underwear), partial nudity (again, the underpants), violence (against robots), and anti-authoritarian misbehavior (that one’s right on the money), it’s no wonder parents have been in an uproar over this graphic series for the past two years.


    1. Knopf ✓ “The Golden Compass” by Philip Pullman
    2. Scholastic ✓ “Scary Stories” (series) by Alvin Schwartz
    1. Scholastic ✓ “Harry Potter” (series) by J.K. Rowling
    2. Red Fox ✓ “In The Night Kitchen” by Maurice Sendak

    ✓ X “In The Night Kitchen”

    Nope, it wasn’t a “religious viewpoint” that made this children’s classic one of the ten most-challenged books in 2004 — it was claims of its nudity, offensive language, and sex.

    Red Fox

    1. Albert Whitman ✓ “My Mom’s Having a Baby!: A Kid’s Month-By-Month Guide to Pregnancy” by Dori Hillestad Butler
    2. Candlewick ✓ “It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health” by Robie H. Harris
    1. Candlewick ✓ “It’s So Amazing! A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families” by Robie H. Harris

    ✓ X All of the above

    Duh. It’s sex education! (And, depending on the book, it’s homosexuality, nudity, abortion, or discussion of sexual content.) What’s it doing in a place of education, like, you know, school?

    1. Scholastic ✓ “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins
    2. Katherine Tegen ✓ “Divergent” by Veronica Roth
    1. Tors Science Fiction ✓ “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card
    2. Delacorte ✓ “The Maze Runner” by James Dashner

    ✓ X “The Hunger Games”

    The trilogy was especially problematic in 2011, with challenges claiming it wasn’t just anti-ethnic and anti-family, but also that promoted insensitivity, offensive language, the occult, and violence. In 2010, one parent in Goffstown, NH even stated that it could “numb other students to the effects of violence.”


    1. MDCarchives / Creative Commons ✓ Toni Morrison
    2. Flickr: david_terrar / Creative Commons ✓ Kurt Vonnegut
    1. Lloyd Arnold ✓ Ernest Hemingway
    2. ✓ John Steinbeck

    ✓ X Ernest Hemingway

    Hemingway’s authored three frequently-challenged classics (“The Sun Also Rises”, “A Farewell To Arms”, and “For Whom The Bell Tolls”) but Steinbeck, Morrison, and Vonnegut aren’t far behind with two books each.

    Lloyd Arnold

How Well Do You Know Your Banned Books?


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