I always thought the idea of banning books was and still is insane. If you don’t like the content of a book just don’t read it. But in all honesty the reasons people come up with to ban a book are just as insane! I own a lot of books that have been banned, burned and/or challenged. I am going to list them and show the reasons.
- Challenged as appropriate reading for Oakland, CA High School honors class (1984) due to the work’s “sexual and social explicitness” and its “troubling ideas about race relations, man’s relationship to God, African history, and human sexuality.” After nine months of haggling and delays, a divided Oakland Board of Education gave formal approval for the book’s use.
- Rejected for purchase by the Hayward, CA school’s trustee (1985) because of “rough language” and “explicit sex scenes.”
- Removed from the open shelves of the Newport News, VA school library (1986) because of its “profanity and sexual references” and placed in a special section accessible only to students over the age of 18 or who have written permission from a parent. Challenged at the public libraries of Saginaw, MI (1989) because it was “too sexually graphic for a 12-year-old.”
- Challenged as a summer youth program reading assignment in Chattanooga, TN (1989) because of its language and “explicitness.”
- Challenged as an optional reading assigned in Ten Sleep, WY schools (1990).
- Challenged as a reading assignment at the New Burn, NC High School (1992) because the main character is raped by her stepfather.
- Banned in the Souderton, PA Area School District (1992) as appropriate reading for 10th graders because it is “smut.” Challenged on the curricular reading list at Pomperaug High School in Southbury, CT (1995) because sexually explicit passages aren’t appropriate high school reading.
- Retained as an English course reading assignment in the Junction City, OR high school (1995) after a challenge to Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel caused months of controversy. Although an alternative assignment was available, the book was challenged due to “inappropriate language, graphic sexual scenes, and book’s negative image of black men.”
- Challenged at the St. Johns County Schools in St. Augustine, FL (1995). Retained on the Round Rock, TX Independent High School reading list (1996) after a challenge that the book was too violent.
- Challenged, but retained, as part of the reading list for Advanced Placement English classes at Northwest High Schools in High Point, NC (1996). The book was challenged because it is “sexually graphic and violent.”
- Removed from the Jackson County, WV school libraries (1997) along with sixteen other titles. Challenged, but retained as part of a supplemental reading list at the Shawnee School in Lima, OH (1999). Several parents described its content as vulgar and “X-rated.”
- Removed from the Ferguson High School library in Newport News, VA (1999). Students may request and borrow the book with parental approval.
- Challenged, along with seventeen other titles in the Fairfax County, VA elementary and secondary libraries (2002), by a group called Parents Against Bad Books in Schools. The group contends the books “contain profanity and descriptions of drug abuse, sexually explicit conduct, and torture.”
- Challenged in Burke County (2008) schools in Morganton, NC by parents concerned about the homosexuality, rape, and incest portrayed in the book
- Banned as obscene in France (1956-1959), in England (1955-59), in Argentina (1959), and in New Zealand (1960). The South African Directorate of Publications announced on November 27, 1982, that Lolita has been taken off the banned list, eight years after a request for permission to market the novel in paperback had been refused.
- Challenged at the Marion-Levy Public Library System in Ocala, FL (2006). The Marion County commissioners voted to have the county attorney review the novel that addresses the themes of pedophilia and incest, to determine if it meets the state law’s definition of “unsuitable for minors.”
- Challenged in many communities, but burned in Drake, ND (1973).
- Banned in Rochester, MI because the novel “contains and makes references to religious matters” and thus fell within the ban of the establishment clause. An appellate court upheld its usage in the school in Todd v Rochester Community Schools, 41 Mich. App. 320, 200 N. W 2d 90 (1972).
- Banned in Levittown, NY (1975), North Jackson, OH (1979), and Lakeland, FL (1982) because of the “book’s explicit sexual scenes, violence, and obscene language.”
- Barred from purchase at the Washington Park High School in Racine, WI (1984) by the district administrative assistant for instructional services.
- Challenged at the Owensboro, KY High School library (1985) because of “foul language, a section depicting a picture of an act of bestiality, a reference to ‘Magic Fingers’ attached to the protagonist’s bed to help him sleep, and the sentence: ‘The gun made a ripping sound like the opening of the fly of God Almighty.”‘
- Restricted to students who have parental permission at the four Racine, WI Unified District high school libraries (1986) because of “language used in the book, depictions of torture, ethnic slurs, and negative portrayals of women.”
- Challenged at the LaRue County, KY High School library (1987) because “the book contains foul language and promotes deviant sexual behavior.”
- Retained on the Round Rock, TX Independent High School reading list (1996) after a challenge that the book was too violent.
- Challenged as an eleventh grade summer reading option in Prince William County, VA (1998) because the book “was rife with profanity and explicit sex:”
- Removed as required reading for sophomores at the Coventry, RI High School (2000) after a parent complained that it contains vulgar language, violent imagery, and sexual content.
- Retained on the Northwest Suburban High School District 214 reading list in Arlington Heights, IL (2006), along with eight other challenged titles. A board member, elected amid promises to bring her Christian beliefs into all board decision-making, raised the controversy based on excerpts from the books she’d found on the internet.
- Challenged in the Howell, MI High School (2007) because of the book’s strong sexual content. In response to a request from the president of the Livingston Organization for Values in Education, or LOVE, the county’s top law enforcement official reviewed the books to see whether laws against distribution of sexually explicit materials to minors had been broken. “After reading the books in question, it is clear that the explicit passages illustrated a larger literary, artistic or political message and were not included solely to appeal to the prurient interests of minors,” the county prosecutor wrote. “Whether these materials are appropriate for minors is a decision to be made by the school board, but I find that they are not in violation of criminal laws.”
- Challenged in the Jackson County, FL (1981) because Orwell’s novel is “pro-communist and contained explicit sexual matter.”
- A Wisconsin survey revealed in 1963 that the John Birch Society had challenged the novel’s use; it objected to the words “masses will revolt.” In 1968, the New York State English Council’s Committee on Defense Against Censorship conducted a comparable study in New York State English classrooms. Its findings identified the novel on its list of “problem books”; the reason cited was that “Orwell was a communist.”
- Suppressed from being displayed at the 1977 Moscow, Russia International Book Fair.
- A survey of censorship challenges in the schools, conducted in DeKalb County for the period of 1979 to 1982, revealed that the novel had been objected to for its political theories.
- Banned from Bay County’s four middle schools and three high schools in Panama City, FL by the Bay County school superintendent in 1987. After 44 parents filed a suit against the district claiming that its instructional aids policy denies constitutional rights, the Bay County School Board reinstated the book, along with sixty-four others banned.
- Banned from schools in the United Arab Emirates, along with 125 others in 2002. The Ministry of Education banned it on the grounds that it contains written or illustrated material that contradicts Islamic and Arab values—in this text, pictures of alcoholic drinks, pigs, and other “indecent images.”
All my information came from the American Library Association. There are a ton more classics listed in there as well as other categories you can look through.
Now I do get that these books are not for all ages. I sure as shit wouldn’t let me Elementary aged kids read them. But I would let them read them as they got older. Books like these are great for discussions and learning. The world is far from Utopian. The languages used in certain books pertain to the time periods it was written in or goes along with the content. Does it mean it will turn kids (people) bad? Umm NO! As long as you raise your kids right and teach them and talk to them about everything then you shouldn’t have a problem. So go out there and read, read, read! Read everything!
I agree, that no one has to read a book if they can’t handle its content. Such a great list of books too, how sad.
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