Banned Books

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Our Favorite Banned Books

Banned Books Week is coming up next month. If you went to public or private school, you probably ran into at least one book whose author endured censorship. If you were homeschooled, certain books may have been banned in your home. If not, your teachers and parents probably discussed literary censorship once or twice, minimum.

This writer has read her share of banned or questioned books, and she wants to know, what are some favorites in our community? The author should discuss some popular challenged books, especially favorites. Why are/were they challenged? If the challenge has died down, why–or why not? What particular literary value do these books have? Most importantly, what do we miss out on when we ban a particular book or author from our curricular or personal canon (s)?

-Judy Blume (Margaret, Blubber, Deenie, really almost any book)
-J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter; witchcraft controversy not as hot but still present)
-Any book, especially children’s, featuring LGBT characters/situations
-Anne Frank (yes, it was once banned for being a "downer" and because of Anne’s discussions of marital relations/sex)
-Shel Silverstein (any book)
-John Green’s Looking for Alaska

  • I actually read two on this list during middle school: Judy Blume and Anne Frank. I also read another book about a Jewish prisoner in Argentina and the sheer torture that he endured by his captors. But, this was during college and by that point I was mature enough to be exposed to it and to walk away from it a better person as a result. I feel that the Blume variety of distaste was mild in comparison. Further still, how is Anne Frank any different from 1984 by George Orwell in terms of social oppression and sexual deviance, looking back at it? Although I have never read any of Rowling's work, I have watch her televised speeches and interviews and feel that prose as vital and distinct must not be banned, it would be a disservice to art in general and literature in particular. – L:Freire 3 years ago
  • I went to a Catholic K-8 school and many of these were banned. I actually learned how to read by following the release of the Harry Potter books as I grew up, so they were naturally my favorites. But a few other banned books not mentioned here were: Northern Lights/The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, all of Scott Westerfeld's books, and The Picture of Dorian Gray (lol!). There were probably many more, but those were the ones I went out of my way to read. Thank you, public libraries! – Eden 3 years ago
  • A long time ago I took a look at Frank's book and was absolutely shocked and devastated after watching the documentaries. This book shouldn't be banned whatsoever. IMHO. – tscosj 3 years ago
  • No. No, it shouldn’t. In my opinion, Holocaust studies should be required starting in sixth grade up—full courses with supplements like trips to museums and resource centers. – Stephanie M. 3 years ago

Keeping Banned Books on our Reading Lists

The words ‘banned book’ can tend to drive people away from good content. But there are many reasons why everyone should consider reading at least one book that has been challenged or banned. This article would explore the benefits of reading such books. What kinds of lessons do works such as "The Lorax" or "Go Ask Alice" have to teach us? Has some of the books on this list been falsely accused (for example the Oxford Dictionary)? In short, banned books still have a lot to offer us, and are vastly under-appreciated.

  • I feel that this can be very broad a topic without specifying location. Do you mean on reading lists in America? Or in Europe? Or Germany? Culture relevancy is a major reason why books are banned, and gaining an understanding of why books are banned in specific locations can help the author reach a more poignant conclusion. – Jemarc Axinto 7 years ago
  • Agree with the above. Also, I think it's obvious that controversial literature still has 'a lot to offer us' - the discussion could perhaps to be orientated on how their banning has added to their value to make a more audacious link. – JekoJeko 7 years ago
  • I agree with Jemarc that with such a broad topic it needs to be narrowed down some more or even give more details on multiple points to give a general feel of the article. – Kevin Mohammed 7 years ago
  • I don't think this topic can been justice without squeezing the concept of freedom from it. Whether books are banned or not is a question of whether a society (or nation) operates under a framework of freedom which allows certain types of books to be labeled as banned. For instance, I would venture a guess that when most Americans think of banned books they associate imagery of the Nazis burning books or of communist nations destroying books deemed dissident (in which case the author too is hunted down and silenced.) However, there have been plenty of banned books in America too. Bukowski and Vonnegut for example, in the realm of fiction. And Howard Zinn in the realm of academic non-fiction. I think this topic could lead to an interesting and important conversation about how much banned books can tell us about the level of freedom which a society operates under. – mcutler1 7 years ago
  • Definitely a great topic. I would suggest researching Banned Book Week and see if the BannedBooksWeek website has any resources that would be of service to you. There were some notes on your topic being a little too general. Maybe, if you'd like, you could narrow your banned book search by grade level (i.e. Elementary, Middle Grade, High School) or, you can break it down by canon or contemporary. Or both! – Jaye Freeland 6 years ago
  • Amen! Actually, banning a book makes a lot of people more eager to read and explore it. – Stephanie M. 5 years ago