Reading Guides: Banned Books

From the American Library Association Website:

September 25 - September 29, 2017

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community—librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types—in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship. Check out the frequently challenged books section to explore the issues and controversies around book challenges and book banning. The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted with removal or restrictions in libraries and schools. While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, the books have remained available. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.

For more information on getting involved with Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read, please see Ideas and ResourcesCalendar of Events,and the new Banned Books Week site. You can also contact the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom at 1-800-545-2433, ext. 4220, or .


Banned or Challenged Books at the Lawrence W. Tyree Library

Most Challenged 2015-2016

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (PZ7.A382 Ab 2007)
Reasons: offensive language; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group

Beloved by Toni Morrison (PS3563.O8749 B4 1988b)
Reasons: Sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (PN6727.B378B43 F86 2006)
Reasons: Lesbian sexuality. Borderline pornographic.

City of Thieves by David Benioff (PS3552.E54425C58 2008)
Reasons: Inappropriate

Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (YOUNG ADULT PZ7.H1165 Cu 2003)
Reasons: Athiestic viewpoint

The Disappearing Spoon: And Other Tales of Madness, Love and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Kean (QD466 .K37 2010)
Reasons: Dark and inappropriate for age group.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Johnathan Safran (PS3606.O38 E97 2005)
Reasons: Lewd and possibly offensive.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel (PN6727.B378 B43 F86 2006)
Reasons: Violence and other (“graphic images”).

The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls (HV5132 .W35 2005)
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit

Glass by Ellen Hopkins (YOUNG ADULT PZ7.H7745 Gla 2009)
Reasons: Sex, violence drugs and alcohol.

I am Jazz By Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings (JUV HQ77.7.H467 2014)
Reason: Depicts a transgender child, and because of sex education, language and offensive viewpoints

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (RC265.6.L24S55 2010 )
Reasons: Too much graphic information

King and King by Linda de Haan & Stern Niljand (PICTURE PZ7.H11132Ki 2002)
Reasons: Promotes the homosexual agenda

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (PS3608.O832 K58 2004)
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group

Looking for Alaska: A Novel by John Green. (YOUNG ADULT PZ7.G8233 Lo 2005)
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group

My Princess Boy: A Mom's Story about a Young Boy Who Loves to Dress Up by Cheryl Kilodavis ( JUV HQ1075 .K535 2011)
Reasons: Promotes perversion and the gay lifestyle.

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri (PS3562.A316 N36 2003)
Reasons: Descriptions of sexual conduct that are too explicit for high school seniors.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (PS3537.T3234 O2 2002)
Banned in Ireland (1953); Syracuse, IN (1974); Oil City, PA (I977); Grand Blanc, MI (1979); Continental, OH (1980) and other communities. Challenged in the Waterloo, IA schools (1992) and the Duval County, FL public school libraries (1992) because of profanity, lurid passages about sex, and statements defamatory to minorities, God, women, and the disabled.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (PN6727.B378 S28 P47 2003)
Reasons: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien (PS 3565 .B75 T48 1990)
Reasons: "vulgar, "complete garbage trash," and "filled with sexual content and profanity."

This Day in June by Gayle E. Pittman ( PICTURE PZ8.3.P5586836 Th 2014 )
Reasons: Promotes perversion and the gay lifestyle.

Banned or Challenged Classics

1984 by George Orwell (PR6029 .R8 N49 2003)
Challenged in the Jackson County, FL (1981) because Orwell's novel is "pro-communist and contained explicit sexual matter."

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green (PZ7.G8233 Abu 2006)
Reasons: sexual references

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell (PZ10.3.R414 Tan 2005)
Reasons: Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. “promotes the homosexual agenda”

Animal Farm by George Orwell (PR6029.R8 A63 2003b)
Banned from Bay County's four middle schools and three high schools in Panama City, FL by the Bay County school superintendent in 1987.

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner  (PS3511.A86 A85 1990)
Banned in the Graves County School District in Mayfield, KY (1986) because it contains "offensive and obscene passages referring to abortion and used God's name in vain."

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin (JUV HQ77.9 .K85 2014)
Reasons: Anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“wants to remove from collection to ward off complaints”).

Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya (PS3551.N27 B58 1999)
Reasons: occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, and violence

The Bluest Eyeby Toni Morrison (PS3563.O8749 B55 2000)
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (PR6015.U9 B65 2006)
Banned in Ireland (1932). Removed from classrooms in Miller, MO (1980), because it makes promiscuous sex "look like fun."
Reasons: insensitivity; nudity; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (PZ7.P273 Br 1977)
Reasons: occult/Satanism, offensive language

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh (PR6045 .A97 B7 1945)
Alabama Representative Gerald Allen (R-Cottondale) proposed legislation that would prohibit the use of public funds for the "purchase of textbooks or library materials that recognize or promote homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle." The bill also proposed that novels with gay protagonists and college textbooks that suggest homosexuality is natural would have to be removed from library shelves and destroyed.  The bill would impact all Alabama school, public, and university libraries. While it would ban books like Heather Has Two Mommies, it could also include classic and popular novels with gay characters such as  Brideshead Revisited, The Color Purple or The Picture of Dorian Gray (2005).

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (PS3558.E476 C3 1999)
Challenged at the Dallas, TX Independent School District high school libraries (1974); in Snoqualmie, WA (1979) because of its several references to women as "whores."

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (PS3537.A426 C3 2010)
Removed because of  profanity and sexual situations from the required reading curriculum of the Marysville, CA  Joint Unified School District (1997). The school superintendent removed it to get it "out of the way so that we didn't have that polarization over a book."
Reasons: sexual content, offensive language, unsuited to age group

The Chocolate Warby Robert Cormier (PZ 7 .C81634 Ch)
Reasons: offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence

The Color Purpleby Alice Walker (PS3573.A425 C6 2003)
Reasons: homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (PR6052.U638 C5 1987)
In 1973 a bookseller in Orem, UT was arrested for selling the novel. Charges were later dropped, but the book seller was forced to close the store and relocate to another city.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker (PS3573.A425 C6 2003)
Banned in the Souderton, PA Area School District (1992) as appropriate reading for 10th graders because it is "smut."

Drama by Raina Telgemeier (PZ7.7.T45 Dr 2012)
Reasons: sexually explicit

Go Ask Aliceby Anonymous (PZ7 .G534 2006)
Reason: drugs

Fallen Angelsby Walter Dean Myers (PZ7.M992 Fal 1988)
Reason: drugs, offensive language, racism, sexual content, violence

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway (PS3515.E37 F3 1957)
Challenged at the Vernon-Verona-Sherill, NY School District (1980) as a "sex novel."

Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James. (PR6110.A4555 F56 2012)
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit

Forever by Judy Blume (PZ7.B6265 Fo 1999x)
Reasons: offensive language, sexual content

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (PS3525.I972 G6 1964)
Challenged in Waukegan, IL School District (1984) because the novel uses the word "nigger."

Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin (PS3552.A45 G62 1995)
Challenged as required reading in the Hudson Falls, NY schools (1994) because the book has recurring themes of rape, masturbation, violence, and degrading treatment of women.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (PS3511.I9 G7 1995b)
Challenged at the Baptist College in Charleston, SC (1987) because of "language and sexual references in the book."

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck  (PS3537.T3234 G8 2002)
Burned by the East St. Louis, IL Public Library (1939) and barred from the Buffalo, NY Public Library (1939) on the grounds that "vulgar words" were used. Banned in Kansas City, MO (1939).

Habibi by Craig Thompson (PN6727.B378T56 H33 2011)
Reasons: Nudity, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.

Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling (PZ7.R79835 Har 1998)
Reasons: occult/Satanism

His Dark Materials Trilogyby Philip Pullman (PZ7 .P968 Go 1996)
Reasons: political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, and violence

Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss (PZ8.3.G276 Hn 1991)
Reasons: encourages children to use violence against their fathers.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins (PZ7.C6837 Hun 2008)
Reasons: anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence

If I Ran the Zoo by Dr. Suess (PZ8.3.G276If 2003)
Reasons: racial stereotypes

I Know Why the Caged Bird Singsby Maya Angelou (PS3551.N464 Z466 2002)
Reasons: homosexuality, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (HV 6533 .K3 C3)
Banned, but later reinstated after community protests at the Windsor Forest High School in Savannah, GA (2000). The controversy began in early 1999 when a parent complained about sex, violence, and profanity in the book that was part of an Advanced Placement English Class.

In the Night Kitchenby Maurice Sendak (PZ7.S47 In 1995)
Reasons: nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit

It's Perfectly Normalby Robie Harris (JUV HQ53 .H37 1994)
Reason: homosexuality, nudity, sexual content, sex education

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (PZ7.D66237 Lit 2008)
Reasons: Promotes "hacker culture"

Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov (PS3527.A15 L6 1992)
Banned as obscene in France (1956-1959), in England (1955-59), in Argentina (1959), and in New Zealand (1960).

The Lord of the Flies by William Golding (PR6013.O35 L6 2003)
A committee of the Toronto, Canada Board of Education ruled on June 23, 1988, that the novel is "racist and recommended that it be removed from all schools."

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (PR6039.O32 L6 2001)
Burned in Alamagordo, NM (2001) outside Christ Community Church along with other Tolkien novels as satanic.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth (PZ7.D2136 Mi 2012)
Reasons: Inappropriate language.

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult (PS3566.I372 M9 2004)
Reasons: homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence

Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs (PS3552.U75 N3 2009)
Found obscene in Boston, MA Superior Court (1965). The finding was reversed by the State Supreme Court the following year.

Nasreen's Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan by Jeanette Winter (JUV LC2410.A3W56 2009)
Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, and violence.

Native Son by Richard Wright (PS3545.R815 N25 2003)
Removed from Irvington High School in Fremont, CA (1998) after a few parents complained the book was unnecessarily violent and sexually explicit

Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich (HD4918 .E375 2001)
Reasons: drugs, inaccurate, offensive language, political viewpoint, and religious viewpoint

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult (PS3566.I372 N56 2007)
Reasons: Inappropriate for high school students

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey (PS3561.E667 O5 1996)
In 1974, five residents of Strongsville, OH, sued the board of education to remove the novel. Labeling 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."

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (PS3537.T3234 O2 2002)
Banned in Ireland (1953); Syracuse, IN (1974); Oil City, PA (I977); Grand Blanc, MI (1979); Continental, OH (1980) and other communities. Challenged in the Waterloo, IA schools (1992) and the Duval County, FL public school libraries (1992) because of profanity, lurid passages about sex, and statements defamatory to minorities, God, women, and the disabled.
Reason: offensive language

Olive's Oceanby Kevin Henkes (PZ7.H389 Ol 2003)
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit

Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (Kindle Fire)
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group.

The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie (PR 9499.3 .R8 S28 1989)
Challenged at the Wichita, KS Public Library (1989) because the book is "blasphemous to the prophet Mohammed." In 1991, in separate incidents, Hitoshi Igarashi, the Japanese translator, was stabbed to death and its Italian translator, Ettore Capriolo, was seriously wounded. In 1993 William Nygaard, its Norwegian publisher, was shot and seriously injured.

A Separate Peace by John Knowles (PS3561.N68 S435 2000)
Challenged in Vernon-Verona-Sherill, NY School District (1980) as a "filthy, trashy sex novel."

Siddhartha by Herman Hesse (PT 2617 .E85 S52 1976)
Removed from Highland Park, Tex., Independent School District’s approved book list. The main character has a child out of wedlock and has sex with prostitutes.

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (PS3572.O5 S6 1998)
Challenged in many communities, but burned in Drake, ND (1973). Banned in Rochester, MI because the novel "contains and makes references to religious matters" and thus fell within the ban of the establishment clause.

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison (PS 3563 .O8749 S6 1995)
Removed from required reading lists and library shelves in the Richmond County, GA. School District (1994) after a parent complained that passages from the book are "filthy and inappropriate."

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (PS3515.U789 T5 2000)
Challenged for sexual explicitness, but retained on the Stonewall Jackson High School's academically advanced reading list in Brentsville, VA (1997).

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (PS3562.E353 T6 2002)
Removed (2009) from the St. Edmund Campion Secondary School classrooms in Brampton Ontario, Canada because a parent objected to language used in the novel, including the word “nigger."
Reasons: offensive language; racism

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (PZ7.M57188 Tw 2006)
Reasons: religious viewpoint and violence.

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan (PZ7.L5798 Two 2013)
Reasons: Homosexual themes

Ulysses by James Joyce (PR 6019 .O9 U4 1986)
Burned in the U.S. (1918), Ireland (1922), Canada (1922), England (1923) and banned in England (1929).

Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher (PZ7.C89 Wh 2001)
Reasons: racism, offensive language

Last Updated: September 2017

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