Huffington Post: 7 Reasons Your Favorite Books Were Banned
by Maddie Crum
September 22, 2013

BBW_Read_200x200Risqué-averse readers, cover your ears. Sunday marked the beginning of this year’s National Banned Books Week, for which libraries and bookstores across the country will promote and celebrate commonly censored titles. The organization calls its cause a “celebration of the freedom to read.”

According to, 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982, when the event was launched. What constitutes a “banned” book, as opposed to a “challenged” book? The American Library Association explains:

A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group.  A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others.

Last year’s most frequently challenged or banned titles included a mix of Young Adult books, literary classics and romance novels, such as “Gossip Girl,” “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

This year’s list includes a few stalwarts, such as Sherman Alexie’s “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” and Barbara Ehrenreich’s “Nickel and Dimed,” and a few titles that have recent or forthcoming film adaptations, such as Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game” and Stephen Chbosky’s “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.”

So why are these stories, many of which are venerated award-winners, being scorned, and in some cases, pulled from shelves? Here are some of the reasons that have been cited:…

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Famous Banned Books

Many people think that book banning is something that only happened in the past. But in 2011 alone, 326 attempts to ban books were made! Probably the most famous books banned in recent years were the Harry Potter and Twilight series. The reason given for censoring the phenomenally popular and seemingly harmless novels was that they promoted “unchristian magic.”

Below is a list of books that have been banned, along with the reasons cited for banning them.

Book Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
Reason Too depressing.
Book Blubber, by Judy Blume
Reason The characters curse and the mean-spirited ringleader is never punished for her cruelty.
Book Bony-Legs, by Joanna Cole
Reason Deals with subjects such as magic and witchraft.
Book The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
Reason Offensive language.
Book Confessions of an Only Child, by Norma Klein
Reason Use of profanity by the lead character’s father.
Book Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh
Reason Teaches children to lie, spy, talk back, and curse.
Book Harry Potter books, by J. K. Rowling
Reason They promote witchcraft, set bad examples, and are too dark.
Book A Hero Ain’t Nothin’ but a Sandwich, by Alice Childress
Reason Anti-American and immoral.
Book The House without a Christmas Tree, by Gail Rock
Reason Uses the word damn.
Book In a Dark, Dark Room, and Other Scary Stories, by Alvin Schwartz
Reason Too morbid for children.
Book In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
Reason Nudity; Mickey loses his pajamas during his fall in the kitchen.
Book A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstein
Reason A suggestive illustration that might encourage kids to break dishes so they won’t have to dry them.
Book Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, by William Steig
Reason The characters are all shown as animals; the police are presented as pigs.

List and quotes are from Fact Monster Database, copyright 2007 Pearson Education.
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Q&A: Banned Books and the Coralville Public Library


What are banned and challenged books?

Banned books are books that have been removed from schools or libraries because someone objected to their content.

Challenged books are books that people have tried to have removed from libraries or schools.


Why do people want to ban books?

People sometimes object to the content of a book, or some of the content, and they think other people shouldn’t be able to read it.

They might object to violence, language, sexual content, religious content, racism, or almost anything else you can think of.

For instance. . .

There are people who want to ban some dictionaries because they define swear words.

Some people think that Junie B. Jones books shouldn’t be in schools or libraries because Junie doesn’t use correct grammar.

Some people object to fantasy books because they believe they encourage witchcraft.

Some people object to sex education books because they think they are too graphic, or that children shouldn’t be taught about sex.


Why is the library doing this display? Does the Coralville Public Llibrary ban books?

No, we don’t ban books! We recognize Banned Books Week every year because we want to draw attention to the fact that there are people who want to ban books, and we want to celebrate our right to read freely. We think the library should be a place to explore all kinds of ideas.

We do think that parents should be the ultimate judges of what their children read. We encourage you to talk to your kids about books and about what is appropriate for them. We just don’t think that anyone has the right to make that decision for anyone else’s family.

Are there books that have been banned or challenged in Iowa?

Yes! There’s a poster by the ladder display that shows some of the books that have been challenged in Iowa libraries.
What’s with the bookmarks in these books?

We’ve put bookmarks in many of the books in our collection that have been banned or challenged somewhere. We’d like to get your feedback. What do you think about the book? Please feel free to leave us some comments and leave the bookmark in the book when you return it. We’ll be featuring some of your comments (anonymously) on our Facebook page and our Banned Books Week blog (you can find links to both on our website).


A few other factoids

The American Library Association has been sponsoring Banned Books Week since 1982.

It’s estimated that less than 20% of book challenges are reported.

Local author Dori Butler has a book that was challenged in Texas just last year! It’s called My Mom’s Having a Baby, and we have it here at the library.


The ALA About page is another good place to read a bit more, if you’re interested: