Top Ten Banned Books You Must Read

  1. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury –  It is always good to start with some irony.  451 was removed from the required reading list of the West Marion high school in Foxworth, Mississippi (1998) for profanity. Students at the Venado Middle School in Irvine, California (1992) received copies of the book with words deemed to be “offensive” crossed out. Students and parents protested, and after being contacted by the media, school officials agreed to stop using the expurgated copies. Ironically, this book is about book-burning and censorship, with the message that books are banned for fear of creating too much individualism and independent thought.¹ It was also censored for 13 years.
  2. Howl by Allen Ginsberg – was prohibited in Jacksonville, Florida Forrest High School advanced placement English class (2000) because of descriptions of homosexual acts. The poems led to the arrest of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and the City Lights bookstore manager, Shigeyoshi Murao, on charges of selling obscene material (1957). A judge found him not guilty.¹
  3. Lord of the Flies by William Golding – Imagine a book about descent into savagery has been banned and challenged, based on the “excessive violence and bad language.”
  4. Lysistrata by Aristophanes – This controversial play is by Aristophanes was written in 411 BC and banned by the Comstock Law of 1873.  
  5. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell was challenged in the Jackson County, FL (1981) because Orwell’s novel is “pro-communist and contained explicit sexual matter.” ²
  6. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien- Burned in Alamagordo, NM (2001) outside Christ Community Church along with other Tolkien novels as satanic.²
  7.  Harry Potter Paperback Box Set (Books 1-7) by J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter and the Half–Blood Prince. was removed by the Wilsona School District trustees from a list recommended by a parent–teacher committee for the Vista San Gabriel, Calif. Elementary School library (2006) along with twenty-three other books. Trustees said one rejected book contained an unsavory hero who made a bad role model for children; another was about a warlock, which they said was inappropriate; and others were books with which they were unfamiliar and didn’t know whether they promoted good character or conflicted with textbooks. Rejected titles included
    three bilingual Clifford the Big Red Dog books, Disney’s Christmas Storybook, two
    books from the Artemis Fowl series, Beauty is a Beast, Welcome to the USA California, and The Eye of the Warlock.
  8. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle – Winner of a Newbery Award, was challenged at a Polk City, Florida elementary school (1985) by a parent who believed that the story “promotes witchcraft, crystal balls and demons.” It was challenged in the Anniston, Alabama schools (1990) because of the book’s listing the name of Jesus Christ together with the names of great artists, philosophers, scientists and religious leaders when referring to those who defend earth against evil. It has been challenged for “sending a mixed signal about good and evil.”¹
  9. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood was challenged in the Waterloo, Iowa schools (1992) because of profanity, lurid passages about sex, and statements defamatory to minorities, God, women and the disabled. Downgraded from “required” to “optional” on the summer reading list for 11th graders in the Upper Moreland, Penn. School District (2000) due to “age-inappropriate” subject matter.³
  10. Le Morte d’Arthur” by Sir Thomas Malory was challenged as required reading at the Pulaski County High School in Somerset, Kentucky (1997) because it is “junk.”¹

¹. Taken from banned and challenged books: the who, what, when, where and why