Do you remember that scene in Field of Dreams where Annie stands up to a parent trying to ban one of her favorite books? It’s a powerful moment when Annie defends free speech and the right to learn. Though that memorable scene was filmed nearly 30 years ago, banning books still happens throughout the U.S. today. You might be surprised to learn that, according to the American Library Association, 416 books were banned or challenged last year alone. It’s also important to note that the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom, which handles book challenges, estimates that as much as 97% of book challenges go unreported.
Over the years, many popular books have been challenged for everything from foul language to witchcraft.
It’s Banned Books Week, an annual celebration of literature that has been challenged. Many of the books that are popular at CLiF giveaways have been challenged at one time or another.
Here are a few popular books for children and young adults that have been challenged or banned:
Banned in many southern states for promoting “witchcraft and supernatural events.” Many librarians also called the book too “frightening” and “dark.” Maurice Sendak’s picture book, In the Night Kitchen, has also been banned due to the nudity of its young hero, Mickey.
Banned in Kansas due to talking animals being an “insult to God”
Banned due to policeman being portrayed as pigs
Banned in Colorado for depicting a “poor philosophy of life”
One of the most frequently banned books, largely due to its blend of science and religion
Also widely banned for its portrayal of Christianity, particularly the connections drawn between Aslan and Jesus Christ
Banned in several schools in Pennsylvania for “profanity, disrespect for adults, and an elaborate fantasy world that might lead to confusion.” It has also been banned in several schools for its use of the phrase, “Oh, Lord.”
It’s hard to believe the Harry Potter books are 20 years old, and they’ve been frequently challenged many times since then, earning the title of most frequently challenged book in the U.S. in 1999, mainly due to witchcraft, though violence has also been cited for the reason behind challenges.
What are your favorite banned books?
P.S. There’s still time to give your favorite children’s book (whether it’s been banned or not) to a child in need. Read about CLiF’s Back-to-School and Ready-to-Read campaign (running through the end of September) and donate here. Just $10 gives the book of your choice to a low-income, at-risk, or rural child.
Erika Nichols-Frazer is CLiF’s Communications Manager, as well as a writer and MFA Candidate at the Bennington Writing Seminars. She is a native Vermonter who lives in Waitsfield, VT.