It’s banned books week!
Today looks different from when The Paper Bag Princess was challenged for being “anti-family”. The banned books in our home arrived because we love reading. Most are considered classics, and as I placed them together for this photo, I did notice the lack of representation. Another way the world is changing.
Censorship hasn’t changed and it isn’t for books alone but also in the social media platforms we present them on. In a world divided by politics and views on the pandemic, banned books are an opportunity to start the conversation on censorship and The First Ammedenment.
Parents and caregivers are the first introductions to censorship children experience. Curating books with delight and care, presenting the world to children through our choices. Parents often tell me that middle-grade books are too heavy and too emotional. Leaving picture books’ safe pages for the broader world’s complexities isn’t always easy.
Children will experience pain and hurt feelings; they will experience or see racism firsthand; they will hear words not spoken in their home; they will see boys kissing boys, and most healthy children will experience puberty. (some of the reasons for banned books).
Our opinions are formed through our life experiences. Books have the unique power of allowing us to walk in another’s journey. You can’t live a life shielded from other people’s opinions, and banning them or “canceling” them won’t make them go away. Reading allows children to define their own values and opinions.
Ban This Book by Alan Gratz is a great place to start.
I grew up in a small town in Texas, I know about that banned life. I’m now a book rebel, defending books and introducing my children to banned books. Hopefully, they’ll grow to be amazing free thinkers.
Maybe you thought banned books were a thing of the past, a label that classic books survived –the most recent banned book on this list took place in 2012! That was only seven years ago. The last book on this list is the most banned in children’s literature and admittedly not one of my favorites, yet the entire series sits on our shelf because my children liked them.
Below I’ve listed the books seen on this shelf and a brief summary of why they were banned. The books challenged in Ban This Book are real books that have actually been challenged or banned within the last thirty years. A printable list can be found at the end.
Banned Picture Books
Where The Wild Things Are: Banned because it was considered psychologically damaging and traumatizing to children due to Max’s inability to control his emotions and his punishment of being sent to bed without dinner.
Outside Over There: Banned for references to nudity, religion, and witchcraft.
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble: Banned for the portrayal of policemen being characterized as pigs despite pigs being portrayed as other people in the story
Crow Boy: Challenged because it “denigrates white American culture, promotes racial separation and discourages assimilation.”
The Paper Bag Princess: banned because it was considered “anti-family”
Banned Chapter Books
*Harry Potter: Banned or challenged by religious groups due to supporting witchcraft and using actual spells.
Charlotte’s Web: Banned or challenged for “unnatural depiction of talking animals.”
Where the Sidewalk Ends: Banned for promoting cannibalism and death.
*From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler: Banned in the book Ban This Book for encouraging children to runaway.
James and the Giant Peach: Banned because it opens with his parents being eaten by an escaped zoo rhinoceros, also because of its drug and alcohol references.
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe: Banned for depicting graphic violence, mysticism, and gore.
*Harriet the Spy: Banned because it promoted lying, back-talking, and spying on others.
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret: Banned because it tackles puberty and teen sexuality.
A Wrinkle in Time: Banned for containing offensive language, being too advanced for children, and some religious groups claimed that it undermines religious beliefs and challenges the idea of their God.
*Goosebumps: Banned for being too graphic and scary
Drama: In Texas, Drama was banned three years consecutively between 2014 and 2018 for “promoting the homosexual agenda”.
*Captain Underpants: Banned due to “offensive language”, partial nudity, violence, misbehavior, and blackmail. Also, “Some material in this book may be considered offensive by people who don’t wear underwear.”