We can’t seem to escape the news of all the banned books of 2023. Hundreds of books are banned or challenged each year around the globe.
Below you’ll find a list of our favorite banned books to help you get started on you banned book reading journey!
Why are books banned?
Books can be challenged and/or banned for a variety of reasons such as being racist, containing sexually explicit content, portraying the logging industry in a bad light, and even for portraying policemen as pigs (as in actual pigs in a picture book.)
Should You Read Banned Books?
Like many in the literary community, Jackie and I believe that banned books should be read. Below is a list of 45 of our favorite, Children, Middle Grade, Young Adult, and Adult banned books along with the reason they were banned. How many have you read?
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Children’s Banned Book
- Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey – Banned for offensive language, encouraging disruptive behavior, violence, LGBTQIA themes, anti-family content, and more
- A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss – Banned for LGBTQIA content, political and religious viewpoints
- Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein – Banned for promotion of drug use, suicided depiction, violence, rebellion against parents, promotion of lying, and more
- Harriet The Spy by Louise Fitzhugh – Banned for encouraging children to disrespect parents, lie, talk back, and…. spy
- Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne – Banned for being an insult to god for talking animals, revolving around nazism, and piglet being offensive
- And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell – Banned for homosexuality
- Little House on the Praire by Laura Ingalls Wilder – Banned for racist language and viewpoints.
- The Lorax by Dr. Suess – Banned for depicting the logging industry in a negative light
- Where the Wild Things Are By Maurice Sendak – Banned for being too dark and supernatural
- The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf – Banned for promoting pacifism
- The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats – This one was challenged for lots of reasons. Some people challenged it because they thought Keats portrayed African Americans in a bad light while others liked the story but believed that he had no right to create a story about a black child because he himself was not black, while others grew angry because they believed he only created a black child to contrast with the snow. He was awarded the Caldecott amidst a lot of controversies.
- Hop on Pop by Dr. Suess – Banned for encouraging violence against fathers
- The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett – Banned for racist language and depictions
- Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig– Banned because the policeman in the book are characterized as actual pigs, even though other pigs were used as other characters within the story.
- James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl – Banned for profanity
Middle-Grade and YA Banned Books
- All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson – Banned for LGBTQ+ themes
- Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe – Banned for graphic images
- His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman – Banned for Anti-Christian material
- Front Desk by Kelly Yang – Banned for Anti-racist views
- Looking for Alaska by John Green – Banned for the depiction of oral sex
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie – Banned for profanity, sexual references, and use of a derogatory term
- The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas – Banned and Challenged for racism, police violence, and normalizing sex
- Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson – Banned for atheism, swearing, and witchcraft
- The Giver by Lois Lowry – Banned for violence, foul language, and being inappropriate for young children
- Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White – Banned for talking animals
- Forever by Judy Blume – Banned for explicit sexual content
- Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – Banned for promoting witchcraft.
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – Banned for profanity and racist conduct
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – Banned for violence, anti-family sentiments, and for being satanic
- Twilight by Stephanie Meyers – Banned for being sexually explicit
Love Middle-Grade Books? We do too! Check out our list of books for 10, 11, 12, and 13-year-olds.
Adult Banned Books
- Maus by Art Spiegelman – Banned for nudity and swearing
- A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – Banned for profanity, vulgarity, and sexual overtones
- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou – Banned for racism, depiction of rape, and sex
- Stamped: Racism, Anti-Racism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi – Banned for claims that book contains selective storytelling and does not encompass racism against all people
- Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez – Banned for sexually explicit content and depictions of abuse
- Lawn Boy by Jonathon Evison – Banned for LGBTQIA content and being sexually explicit
- Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck – Banned for racism, profanity, and violence
- The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein – Banned for being satanic
- Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – Banned for the depiction of slaves, and offensive, vulgar language
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – Banned for vulgar language, sexual content, and alcohol use
- Beloved by Toni Morrison – Banned for violence, profanity, language, and sexual content
- The Merriam-Webster Dictionary – Banned for defining Oral Sex
- Atonement by Ian McEwan – Challenged for poor grammar and sentence structure
- The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls – Banned for anti-christian remarks, sexual content, and vulgar language
- The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – Banned for depicting rape in a graphic manner and vulgar language