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Caution: Banned and Challenged Children's Books Ahead

September 27, 2016

This week, in libraries across the nation, we celebrate Banned Books Week and the freedom to read freely. Believe it or not, every year, there are hundreds of attempts to remove books from schools and libraries.

Since the establishment of Banned Books Week in 1982, over 11 thousand books have been challenged.

Just recently, Alex Gino’s George and Kate Messner’s The Seventh Wish have caused quite a stir over the content of their books; schools have even told authors to stay away. Kate Messner was abruptly disinvited 24 hours before a school visit, despite booking the event months in advance and sharing an advanced copy of the book with the school, due the sensitive nature of one of the themes  in The Seventh Wish – addiction.

So...who’s challenging library books, and why do they want them removed?

Roughly 40% of book challenges come from parents, and the reasons for them are numerous. The most common reasons for challenging a book are being sexually explicit, having offensive language, and its age-appropriateness.

Have you read a banned book? Chances are you have and didn’t even know it! Seventy-two of the top 100 books challenged from 2000-2009 are children’s and young adult books.

Here are some of our favorite children’s books and the reason they were challenged.

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling for occult/Satanism.

The Giver by Lois Lowry for age-appropriateness and violence.

And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson for homosexuality, age-appropriateness, and being anti-family. It was the number one challenged book for four years in a row from 2006-2010.

Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss for violence.

In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak for nudity.

The Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey for offensive language, age-appropriateness, and violence.

The Walter the Farting Dog series by William Kotzwinkle for offensive language.

A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein for violence.

Guess What? by Mem Fox for age-appropriateness and offensive language.

The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis for offensive language.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain for offensive language.

The Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson for occult/Satanism.

The His Dark Materials series by Phillip Pullman for occult/Satanism.

It’s So Amazing and It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris for sex education.

If you’ve read any of these, let us know in the comments. Celebrate your right to read today and every day! 

Cassie headshot thumbnail


Cassie is a Children's Librarian at Edmondson Pike Branch Library. She can often be found reading books and singing songs, and not just at the library! Her favorite thing to do at the moment is cuddle her baby while they read phenomenal picture books and earn Read to Rise points.