Read Banned Books!
Censorship is the child of fear and the father of ignorance.
~Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak
It's Banned Books Week, a time to champion our freedom to read. Many notable banned books are compelling reads from classic or contemporary literature. The selected six books below are not books banned in 2021, instead, they are classic books that have consistently faced scrutiny. They are included in the American Library Association “Banned and Challenged Classics” list and are also listed on the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century.
See the full list of "Banned and Challenged Classics" here.
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
Catcher in the Rye has been consistently controversial since it was first published in 1951. The Linton-Stockton Indiana high school in 1988 claimed it was “blasphemous and undermines morality,” and it was challenged at Jamaica High School in Sidell, Ill., in 1992 for containing profanities, depicting premarital sex, alcohol abuse and prostitution.
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
The Steinbeck novella about two migrant ranch workers came out in 1937 and has been challenged by school boards ever since for offensive language, racial slurs and, according to a coalition of clergy in Mobile, Ala., “morbid and depressing themes.”
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The 1982 Pulitzer Prize winner and coming of age novel about a young black woman named Celie deals with issues like rape and incest — and has been consistently challenged for graphic sexual content and violence.
Animal Farm by George Orwell Upon publication and throughout the years, Orwell’s novella has been accused by detractors as Communist propaganda and a seditious call to overthrow organized states.
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
The classic 1969 book, which centers on the firebombing of Dresden, has been challenged in many communities, but was burned in Drake, ND. Complaints include foul language, sexual content, and violence.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
The list of challenges and approved removals have covered states across the nation between the late-1970’s and the close of the century. In 2000, parents in Placentia-Yorba Linda, CA stated that teachers "can choose the best books, but they keep choosing this garbage over and over again."
Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores, and libraries. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information and brings together the entire book community - librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types - in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas. Learn more about the organizations we support: