Most Controversial Books Ever Banned by Libraries

Oct 20, 2021


1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Mark Twain's novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, is one of the most controversial books of all time. It has been banned from both libraries and school curriculums and holds a constant place on the American Library Association's list of the 'Most Frequently Challenged Books.' Librarians report that most complaints about The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn center on the book's racially charged language.

2. The Chocolate War

Written in 1974 by Robert Cormier, The Chocolate War, was controversial right from the start. Parents across the nation objected to the book's content, which includes a masturbation scene, violence and nearly 200 swear words. Since its publication, The Chocolate War has been one of the most frequently banned books in public libraries and schools.

3. And Tango Makes Three

Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson's picture book about two penguins that are 'a little bit different' infuriated homophobic people everywhere. And Tango Makes Three was banned from a number of school libraries and was the most challenged book of 2006, according to the American Library Association.

4. Scary Stories Series

The critically acclaimed three book Scary Stories series from Alvin Schwartz gave everyone the chills. It also roiled people who thought it was unsuitable for children. All of the books in the series have been challenged for violence, insensitivity and content that supposedly promotes the occult or Satanism.

5. The Harry Potter Series

JK Rowling, author of the wildly popular Harry Potter series, is sometimes referred to as the writer Americans would most like to see banned. According to librarian scientists, there were more than 3,000 attempts to have her books removed from U.S. libraries between 2000 and 2005 alone. Fanatics across the nation still claim that Rowling's books promote the occult and Satanism.

6. The Color Purple

Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Color Purple, has inspired controversy from day one. Would-be censors say that the book contains too much graphic violence and sexuality. The Color Purple has been challenged frequently and banned from libraries all over the world.

7. The Giver

Written by Lois Lowry, The Giver is often referred to as 'the suicide book' because euthanasia and suicide play a major role in the book's plot. Since its publication in 1993, The Giver has been one of the most commonly banned books in American middle schools.

8. Bridge to Terabithia

Katherine Patterson's Bridge to Terabithia is a frequent target of religious groups who think the book's references to magic, spells and evil promote Satanism. The accusation is ironic considering the author is the daughter of Christian missionaries and wife of a Presbyterian Minister.

9. The Catcher in the Rye

Published by J.D. Salinger in 1951, The Catcher in the Rye, was an immediate target for censorship. Parents and special interest groups complained to library workers about references to suicide, profanity, and the inappropriate behavior of Salinger's protagonist. A study by People for the American Way determined that the book is among others most likely to be censored due to 'anti-Christian' sentiments.

10. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Maya Angelou autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, is on freshman reading lists everywhere. It is also one of the most challenged books of all time. Most objections relate to Angelou's account of being brutally raped as a young girl, but people also complain about profanity and descriptions of drug abuse.

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