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Read banned books. 9 Beloved Children’s Books have been banned or challenged. Learn why you should read these children’s books and keep them in your classroom library.

Every year at the end of the September, the American Library Association (ALA) promotes the freedom to choose what to read. Each year, they put out a list of challenged and banned books, books that others have deemed unworthy to be read.
When I was looking through this list, I realized that some of the most beloved books of my childhood are now on this list. These are books I know my children have read and I have recommended to my students. Should I stop?
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What is the difference between a

Challenged and Banned Book?

Challenged Books

A person or group has objected to the book and the book is in danger of being banned.

Banned Books

The actual removal of a challenged book from circulation. 

Why are books Banned?

Parents and School libraries are the two groups who most often suggest that a book be banned. There is material in the book that they do not believe a child should be exposed to and as such ask for the book to be banned.

Books are challenged/banned typically for one of the following reasons: racial issues, encouraging damaging lifestyles, blasphemous dialogue, sexual situations/dialog, violence, negativity, presence of witchcraft, religious affiliations, political bias, and age inappropriate.

Books can be challenged/banned nationwide but are more often banned regionally. For this reason, many books on the banned book lists might have multiple dates they were banned and may even be in circulation in some regions.

Why should we read banned books?

If you have followed me for awhile, you have probably figured out that I tend to be conservative. There are some books that I would not want my children to read alone. I would want to read them aloud so we can discuss what is happening and why. There are some books I would not want my children to read period. However, I strongly believe it is my view  and that others are free to make their own choices. 

The library is a place to find information. Some information we agree with and some we don’t. This is part of our first amendment rights. I believe that if I take the right away from someone to read a book of their choosing, then I have violated this right.

Most often the books that we ban have messages that need to be heard. Some are heart breaking. Some are difficult to understand or imagine but each one holds a lesson we need to learn. Each one brings us wisdom and knowledge. Books teach us about empathy and let us see things from a point of view different than our own.

I believe we need to read books that challenge us even if we do not like them. Below are 9 of my favorite banned books.

.01

Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?

Banned in 2010

Bill Martin wrote a book on Ethical Marxism. Many want this and any book written by this author banned.

Bill Martin Jr. (author of our book) – has  no relation to the author banned but regardless it was deemed the names were too similar so he was also banned.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear is the book I remember learning my colors with and I know I taught my own children their colors with this book. I will use it to teach my grandchildren their colors as well.

.02

Charlotte’s Web

Banned 2003 & 2006.

Talking animals have become offensive to many. Animals should never portray human characteristics in some cultures. Also, Wilbur the Pig has been deemed as offensive to Muslims.

Charlotte’s Web was one of my favorites from childhood and one I have read aloud in my classroom. I remember as a child going out to the barn and trying to find Charlotte. We didn’t have a Wilbur but we had Raisin. Spoiler Alert: I never found Charlotte.

.03

Harry Potter Series

Banned 2009.

J.K. Rowling has made more money than any author in history. Her series on Harry Potter is the number children’s book of the modern era yet it is endanger of being banned. Why? It promotes “Godless Witchcraft.”

I have recommended the Harry Potter series to countless children who did not want to read. Many thought they might want to read it after the movies but they saw the movie. So I tell them there is even more of a story inside the books and off that child goes, hooked on reading.

.04

Bridge to Terabithia

Banned 1996.

There is a long line of complaints against this book including the use of profanity, blaspheme, disrespect for adults, and depicting an elaborate fantasy world.

Bridge to Teribithia was one of my favorite stories from childhood. I don’t talk about it much but I grew up as a foster child. I wanted to live in Terabithia. It is the place I felt safest. Even on the darkest of days when the pain and shame wouldn’t end… this gave me hope.

I have read it to my children and I have recommended it. This was the fantasy world of my childhood as Hogwarts was not yet available.

.05

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

Banned in 2010.

This book has been deemed to violent for children. It is said that it contains parts that are pornographic and the historical accuracy portrayed has come into question. Was the Holocaust really as bad as this book describes?

Anne Frank haunted me.  I was in eighth grade when my teacher had us read it. I couldn’t believe how awful someone could be to another person. I did not like history but this… this is what made me realize how important history is and how we need to learn from our past mistakes so as to never repeat them again.

.06

The Wizard of Oz

Banned 1986.

This book was banned as there are good witches and bad witches and everyone knows that there can only be bad witches. One claim states, human attributes are to be given by God  and as such would never give it to a witch. There are many more reasons why this was just the first.

I remember reading the original Wizard of Oz where Dorothy had silver shoes. Did you know they were changed to red as when they filmed it for the first time, they wanted a color that would stand out? This was the story that got my oldest child hooked on finding the nuances between movies and books.

.07

Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret.

Banned 1983.

Are you there, God? It’s Me, Margaret is considered immoral, anti-Christian, and contains sexually graphic content. The author has additional books that have made the list for reasons which include racism, inappropriate conduct, and a continuation of the complaints above.

Judy Blume writes books for pre-teen girls helping them deal with difficult topics in a light-hearted way. The “sexually graphic content” in this book discusses how she wants to begin her menstral cycle and wear a bra. These are stories that young girls want and need to read.

.08

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Banned 1988.

Roald Dahl has made the banned/challenged book lists multiple times. This book is challenged as being racist (Oompa Loompas) and portraying an unrealistic philosophy of life.

It is hard to believe now but as a child I didn’t like to read. I saw the movie with Gene Wilder and then found the book. That was the moment I was hooked! What happened to Charlie after the Chocolate Factory? I had to find out and for that I had to read.

.09

Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus

Banned 1998.

Banned for its poor use of grammar, negativity, inability to resolve negative emotions, and inappropriate behavior displayed by a child. Additional titles by this author are also being challenged based upon these reasons.

Junie B. Jones is a classic story that early readers relate to and love. I cannot imagine a world where Junie and her adventures are not in it. Can you imagine the hole left in your classroom library and the hearts of your students?

That’s Your List?

There are so many books on the banned book list that it was hard to come up with a list of 9 that I would miss the most. I tried to pick authors and series that we all know and love so you could see the problem with banning or even challenging books.

Please leave a comment below with your favorite banned or challenged book. Perhaps it will make my list of 9 for next year.

Why Purchase Books

Reading is essential to academic and personal success. It is the number one thing we can do as teachers and parents to help the children in our care reach their full potential. Research has shown that the more access one has to a book, the more likely the are to read it.

For this reason, I have a set of 9 books on any given topic in my room. Why 9? It seems to be the right number for me. Not too few that you have a line of students waiting to read on that topic and not so many that they never get read. You need this many to ensure your students  have a choice in what they are reading and that they have access to materials at their unique reading abilities.

Click on the links above to purchase your new books. I have done the research, Amazon is the cheapest place to buy these books.

Why is reading important?

Reading is the number 1 thing you can do as a parent to help your child become a successful adult. As teachers, we know the importance of reading but struggle conveying this importance to parents.

The post below shares the latest research from 2016 about who is reading, how often they are reading, and discusses the decline of reading within our society. In addition, you will discover a freebie about 9 ways to help support reading in the home.