5 Banned Children’s Books That May Surprise You

Friday September 29, 2017 By Barbershop Books

By Felicity LuHill & Amy Pelch

This week is Banned Books Week! Banned Books Week is a time to celebrate the freedom to read and celebrate great books that have previously been censored. Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 by the American Library Association, and for 35 years, libraries and publishers across America use this week to talk about the importance of allowing readers to explore worlds and characters through reading.

Here are a five children’s books that have been banned that we think are worth reading:

“Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White, published in 1952 – This classic book about a pig named Wilbur who befriends a spider named Charlotte has been banned as recently as 2006! It’s been banned because “talking animals are blasphemous and unnatural,” and the passages about the spider dying were considered “inappropriate subject matter for a children’s book.

“Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak, published in 1963 – This classic book about a kid who gets sent to bed without dinner and experiencing dreams about going on adventures with wild things, was banned as soon as it was released and has been considered one of the top 100 most banned books as recently as 2009. The book was banned as it “glorifies” the main character throwing a tantrum, which was considered dangerous behavior. It was also considered “too dark and frightening” for young children.

“Harriet The Spy” by Louise Fitzhugh, published in 1964 – This book is about a spunky 11-year-old who likes to spy and write in her journal. It’s been banned for giving children a bad role model, and “exhibiting delinquent tendencies.”

“The Witches” by Roald Dahl, published in 1983 – This book has been banned in libraries all through the 80s and 90s for promoting witchcraft, and encouraging children to be disobedient. The book tells a story of a young boy who goes on an adventure after discovering witches are real.

“Captain Underpants” by Dav Pilkey, published in 1997 – A favorite of Barbershop Books, you might be surprised to know that ALA called the Captain Underpants series the most challenged books of 2012. A book about two fourth graders whose comic comes to life, it’s been banned for being “unsuited to age group” and for “encouraging children to disobey authority.”


Works Cited:

  • “Why your kid should read banned books.” Salon.com. Accessed September 29, 2017. https://www.salon.com/2017/09/24/why-your-kid-should-read-banned-books_partner/.
  • “CENSORED: The Story of Five Banned Books.” Dorrance Publishing Company. August 04, 2016. Accessed September 29, 2017. http://www.dorrancepublishing.com/censored-story-five-banned-books/.
  • “Banned 32 – Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.” Banned Library. June 08, 2015. Accessed September 29, 2017. http://www.bannedlibrary.com/podcast/2015/6/8/where-the-wild-things-are.
  • Driscoll, Eoin and O’Carroll, Molly. “25 banned books that may surprise you.” The Christian Science Monitor. October 03, 2012. Accessed September 29, 2017. https://www.csmonitor.com/Books/2012/1003/30-banned-books-that-may-surprise-you/Harriet-the-Spy-by-Louise-Fitzhugh.
  • Engel, Pamela. “Why ‘Captain Underpants’ Is The Most Banned Book In America.” Business Insider. September 26, 2013. Accessed September 29, 2017. http://www.businessinsider.com/why-captain-underpants-is-the-most-banned-book-in-america-2013-9.

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