One of our most popular tables is centered around all the books that have been banned, challenged, contested, and suppressed. But we can assure you that it hasn’t stopped people from reading the books who have undergone immense scrutiny. Check out our collection of embattled classics below and learned about their histories.

BANNED:

Ranked #22 in the ALA's list of most banned books 1990-2000. The most common claim asserts that it contains occult elements like witches, crystal balls, and unusual abilities that do not come from God. Jerry Falwell Ministries claimed that it undermines religious beliefs and contains offensive language. While many argue that IT and the planet Camazotz serve as anti-communist symbolism, the book has also been challenged for pro-communist sentiments.

CHALLENGED:

In 1974 the Dallas, TX Independent School District challenged this book on the grounds that it contained a “depressing view of life” and “immoral situations.”

BANNED:

Animal Farm is an allegory for the rise and decline of socialism in the Soviet Union and the emergence of the totalitarian rule of Stalin. It was banned in the USSR until the 1980s for being anti-Communist but also banned in the USA for the Communist text in its introduction. Published in 1945, it is arguably one of Orwell's best known works and among the most important books of the 20th century.

CONTESTED:

In November 2010, Culpepper County Public Schools stopped assigning the 50th anniversary “definitive” version of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl to eighth grade students after a parent complained that it contains inappropriate sexual and homosexual themes. The contested version will remain in the school's library, but a different version, shorn of the sexual language, is now being assigned. According to the ALA, there have been six challenges to the book since 1990, most concerning “sexually explicit” material.

BANNED:

Banned on grounds of obscenity in Boston, MA in 1923, probably because of its frank discussion of sex. It was also banned in Australia for 4 years and burned in Cairo.

BANNED:

Banned in the Graves County School District in Mayfield, KY (1986) because it contained “offensive and obscene passages referring to abortion and used God's name in vain.” The decision was reversed a week later after intense pressure from the ACLU and considerable negative publicity. Banned at Central High School in Louisville, KY (1994) temporarily because the book uses profanity and questions the existence of God.

CHALLENGED:

Challenged in multiple places across the United States, Morrison’s book about an escaped slave who rears her children in a world of fright and lack of freedom includes instances of violence and sexual abuse. Challenges cite violence, sexual content, bestiality, and racism as reasons for removing the Pulitzer Prize winning work from curricula.

CHALLENGED:

Huxley’s dystopian view of society depicts adults dulling their senses with pacifying drugs and casual sex. What Huxley uses as a tool to illustrate what he felt was wrong with society is exactly what those opposed to the book latch on to when challenging it.

BANNED:

This anti-war satire is surprisingly not challenged due to that theme, but because of the depiction of women in the novel. It was challenged in Dallas, TX and Snoqualmie, WA because of the frequent use of the word “whore.” The novel was banned in Strongville, OH in 1972 for indecent language but the ban was reversed in 1976

BANNED:

In 2006, some parents in a Kansas school district decided that talking animals are blasphemous and unnatural - specifically “showing lower life forms with human abilities is sacrilegious and disrespectful to God”. Passages about the spider dying were also criticized as being “inappropriate subject matter for a children’s book”.

BANNED:

Some of the reasons this book is challenged include the violence, profanity, and sexuality in the book, including a rape scene. However, it has also been challenged and banned in various states because of its depictions of racism and race relations, including in Oregon for the “book's negative image of black men.”

BANNED:

This novel, the basis for the 1972 film and a depiction of conflicts between man and nature/city and country, has been challenged several times as obscene and pornographic, especially for its depiction of homosexual rape. In Drake, ND in 1973 copies of the book were confiscated from students and burned.

BANNED:

Doctor Zhivago was refused publication in the Soviet Union because of its criticism of the October Revolution and was never published there during the author’s lifetime. It finally appeared in serialized form in 1988, 28 years after Pasternak's death. According to declassified CIA documents, the book was intentionally used as a tool to “provoke dissent in the USSR.”

BANNED:

In 1640, it was condemned by the Spanish Inquisition for one sentence which supposedly reflected Lutheran beliefs: 'Works of charity performed negligently have neither merit nor value.' The sentence was removed in a reprinted edition, which continued to sell. General Pinochet banned the book in 1981 in Chile because it advocated individual freedom and an attack on authority.

BANNED:

Perhaps one of the most ironic banned books, Fahrenheit 451 deals with the issue of censorship in a dystopian society that sends firefighters out to burn down houses discovered to have books inside. Those opposed to this book claim various reasons for banning it including profanity, portrayal of smoking and drinking, and anti-religious and anti-establishment sentiments. In Irvine, CA students were given a censored version of the book with “hell” and “damn” blacked out.

BANNED:

Fanny Hill, the story of a prostitute, has been opposed many times since it was published. In 1749, a year after the first installment appeared, the author and publisher were arrested and charged with “corrupting the King's subjects.” In 1821, the book was outlawed in the United States in the first known obscenity case. The Chief Justice condemned the publisher as “a scandalous and evil disposed person” trying to “debauch and corrupt” the citizens of Massachusetts and “to raise and create in their minds inordinate and lustful desires.”

BANNED:

Challenges generally center on the protagonist's struggle to understand and express his sexuality, citing language and explicit content. The book has been removed from libraries in Pennsylvania and Texas, and unsuccessfully challenged elsewhere.

CHALLENGED:

Blume is frequently the target of censorship as many of her books deal with teen issues revolving around sexuality. Forever documents a high school girl’s loss of virginity and delves into the emotional aspects of her choice. Challenged for being anti-monogamy, discussion of birth control and pre-marital sex, and a lack of moral tone.

BANNED:

Due to its frequent and strong references to sex, heavy drug usage, and teen pregnancy, libraries and schools across the country have banned the novel. Ironically, the book was published by the parents of a high schooler who committed suicide in the hopes that it would dissuade other teens from trying drugs.

BANNED:

The controversial classic was banned in a California school district for its depiction of the immoral behavior of Scarlett O'Hara and the freed slaves in the novel. Challenged in 1984 for the use of the n-word.

BANNED:

In 1939, by a vote of 4 to 1, the county board of supervisors in Kern County, CA (the county where the novel is set) approved a resolution banning The Grapes Of Wrath from libraries and schools. They called the book “libel and a lie” for unfairly depicting the government's treatment of migrant workers. It has also been banned and challenged for sexual content and profanity.

BANNED:

Banned in parts of India, including Gandhi's home state of Gujarat, because of interpretations that the work alleged a homosexual relationship between Gadhi and a German named Hermann Kallenbach. Author Lelyveld claimed this was a misinterpretation of his writing.

BANNED:

Green Eggs and Ham was banned in China for its portrayal of “early Marxism” from 1965 until Dr. Seuss’ death in 1991.

BANNED:

Early prints of Hamlet in the 1800s were frequently censored, cutting out references to incest or sex. Other censored scenes include the gravediggers discussions of how class defines burial rites and passages perceived to give offense to the monarchy or clergy. Hamlet was also banned by Stalin's regime in the USSR for Hamlet's “indecisiveness and depression incompatible with the Soviet spirit.”

BANNED:

Harry Potter has been challenged in many places across the United States and around the world for supposed subtextual references to Satanism and the occult, and that it glorifies witchcraft. Other grounds for banning include objections to inappropriate or anti-authoritarian behavior, and the criticism that the series is too dark and therefore unsuited for children.

BANNED:

These novels says much about friendship and loyalty, but it also says plenty about not following a religion blindly. Many have seen the book as anti-religion and have banned the book. In 2007 the Catholic League campaigned against the books, saying that it attacked Christianity and especially the Catholic Church. Pullman affirmed the accusations, but also said his books were less anti-religion than anti-the uses to which religion is sometimes put.

BANNED:

This true story details the violent murder of an entire family by two criminals in search of money that they were wrongly informed existed at the family’s farmhouse. This book is considered to be the first true crime book. Banned from school libraries for a short time from 1999-2000 in Savannah, GA after a parent complained about violence, sex, and profanity in the book.

BANNED:

Whitman published several versions of this book filled with his poetry that often celebrates sexuality, both homosexual and heterosexual. From the late 1800?s to the present day, these poems have faced challenges to be read. Banned legally in Boston in 1880, in 1870 the President of Yale compared the poems to Whitman “waking naked through the streets”. Libraries refused to buy the book, and in 1881 Whitman's publisher was threatened with legal action by the Boston District Attorney.

BANNED:

First published by a pornographic press in France, Nabokov explores the life of Humbert Humbert, a pedophile who runs away with the 12 year-old daughter of his landlady. The book was banned from many countries and still experiences challenges today.

BANNED:

Banned in the US in 1873 as obscene material, in Greece by the Nazis in 1942, and by the Greek military junta in 1967. Lysistrata is an account of one woman's mission to end The Peloponnesian War - she convinces the women of Greece to withhold sexual privileges from their husbands and lovers as a means of forcing the men to negotiate peace. Even when it was written, it was considered “unacceptably subversive” by Greek authorities.

CHALLENGED:

The Savannah Morning News reported in November 1999 that a teacher at the Windsor Forest High School required seniors to obtain permission slips before they could read Hamlet, Macbeth, or King Lear. The teacher's school board had pulled the books from class reading lists, citing “adult language” and references to sex and violence.

SUPPRESSED:

While Maurice has not been technically banned, this novel about a gay romance was suppressed for 60 years by Forster himself, who famously attached a note to the manuscript reading “publishable, but worth it?” It was finally published in 1971, a year after Forster's death, when British attitudes toward homosexuality had changed.

BANNED:

Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice was banned from classrooms in Midland, Michigan in 1980, due to its portrayal of the Jewish character Shylock. It has been similarly banned in the 1930s in schools in Buffalo and Manchester, NY. Many of Shakespeare's plays have also often been “cleansed” of crude words and phrases.

CHALLENGED:

Steinbeck’s portrayal of an unusual friendship between two men, one of whom is developmentally challenged, has prompted many to oppose the book due to the language, social and racial implications, and violence in the book. Challenged in Chattanooga, TN for in 1989 because “Steinbeck is known to have had an anti business attitude” and “he was very questionable as to his patriotism.”

REDACTED:

In September 2010 the U.S. Department of Defense overrode the Army's January approval for publication. The DoD then purchased and destroyed all 9,500 first edition copies citing concerns that it contained classified information which could damage the integrity of U.S. National Security. The publisher, St. Martin's Press, in conjunction with the DoD created a censored second edition; which contains blackened out words, lines, paragraphs, and even portions of the index. In 2013 198 of the 433 redactions were declassified by the Pentagon.

CHALLENGED:

Challenged on an extracurricular reading list in the Horry County, S.C. school library (2011). The 1996 novel is based on the story of Precious Jones, an illiterate sixteen-year-old, who grows up in poverty. Precious is raped by her father, battered by her mother, and dismissed by social workers. The story follows Precious, pregnant with a second child by her father, through her journey of learning how to read and be on her own. Challengers objected to the lack of “good family values” in the novel

BANNED:

This story about a ninth grade girl who attends a New England boarding school was pulled from a few reading lists and summer reading programs because it wasn't age appropriate or was viewed as “pornographic.”

CHALLENGED:

Challenged as a suggested reading in Hillsborough County, FL. One high school's report stated: “This book has extremely inappropriate content for a high school media center collection. The book contained explicit homosexual and heterosexual situations, profanity, underage drinking and smoking, extreme moral shortcomings, child molesters, graphic pedophile situations and total lack of negative consequences throughout the book.”

CHALLENGED:

This comic series was challenged multiple times for depictions of nudity and sexual content and, most oddly for a series about the struggles of a family to stay together despite an intergalactic war, for being anti-family.

CHALLENGED:

Kurt Vonnegut's classic describes the adventures of Billy Pilgrim, chaplain's assistant and reluctant soldier, who becomes “unstuck in time” after being captured during the Battle of the Bulge. The book has been challenged multiple times for sexual content and language, including blasphemy and accusations that it promotes “deviant sexual behavior”.

Challenged:

U.S. Customs held up 500 sets of the translation by Mardrus which were imported from England (1927-31). It was confiscated in Cairo, Egypt (1985), on the grounds that it contained obscene passages which posed a threat to the country's moral fabric. Another Egyptian group sought to outlaw the work in 2010.

BANNED:

Tuscon Unified School district in Arizona voted to ban the Mexican American Studies curriculum, including books by authors like Junot Diaz and Sherman Alexie. Tucson officials did this in response to the threat by state Education Department officials to withhold millions of dollars in funding. Administrators “informed Mexican-American studies teachers to stay away from any units where “race, ethnicity and oppression are central themes.”

Banned:

Banned from the U.S. mail under the Federal Anti-Obscenity Act (Comstock Law) of 1873, which banned the sending or receiving of works containing “obscene,” “filthy,” or “inappropriate” material.

CHALLENGED:

The Catcher in the Rye has been one of the most opposed books in the US over the years due to its profanity and references to sex. According the ALA, it was the 10th most frequently challenged book between 1990 and 1999.

BANNED:

The Clan of the Cave Bear, a novel set in prehistoric times, was banned from a middle-school library after a parent objected to a rape scene in the book. The Bethel School Board voted two weeks ago to ban the book from the Cascade Middle School library after a parent complained.

CHALLENGED:

Mark Haddon's novel about a 15-year-old boy with Asperger's Syndrome who investigates the death of his neighbor's dog was pulled from a summer reading list over concerns about swearing and taking God's name in vain.

BANNED:

Banned in September 2004 in Lebanon after Catholic leaders deemed it offensive to Christianity. Muslim groups in India also objected to the book over its depiction of Jesus Christ.

BANNED:

In 1964, all current and future works by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn were banned in the Soviet Union because of his outspoken critiques of the Soviet regime. This work details the lives of scientists forced to work in a Stalinist research center.

CHALLENGED:

The award-winning book that depicts a society driven to maintain an amazing amount of control over its members, including euthanasia and suicide. Some parents have reacted strongly to these themes in the book and seek to ban it as “unsuited to the age group” (too dark for children) or as excessively violent. Some parents called the book 'lewd' and 'twisted.'

CHALLENGED:

A dystopian fictional world where women's only function is to breed. It was #37 on the American Library Association's 100 most frequently challenged books, claimed to be anti-Christian and pornographic.

CHALLENGED:

Besides the Afghanistan government’s upset over the content of the book, including the depiction of ethnic conflict, others around the world have challenged the book due to claims of offensive language, religious viewpoints, homosexuality and a sexually explicit scene in which a young boy is raped.

CHALLENGED:

Profanity and the use of God's name in vain sparked opposition to this science fiction novel. Another challenge cited racist language levied against black citizens seeking to start their own outer space colony by their racist neighbors.

BANNED:

Critics object to the toddler Mickey's nudity. Some also interpret sexual innuendo in the events, with the nudity, free-flowing milky fluids, and giant (allegedly phallic) milk bottle. Primarily due to child nudity, the book continues to appear on challenged and banned lists to this day.

CHALLENGED:

Homer's The Odyssey was targeted by famous philosopher Plato as an exhibition of the potentially corrupting influence of literature on the mind. It also ran into trouble in A.D. 35 in Rome, where according to Suetonius Emperor Caligula tried to ban it because of its expression of Greek ideals of freedom.

BANNED:

This book has been banned from some schools and libraries because of the portrayal of gang violence, underage smoking and drinking, as well as strong language/slang and family dysfunction.

BANNED:

The book was banned and is frequently challenged because of controversial topics such as homosexuality, drug use by teenagers, sexual behavior and abortion. It has appeared 6 times on the ALA's 10 Most Frequently Challenged Books list.

CHALLENGED:

A critically-acclaimed graphic novel about famous turn-of-the-century painters in Paris who find a magical blue absinthe that allows them to enter paintings, The Salon featured a naked, ranting Pablo Picasso in one highly non-sexual scene, a fact that became important when a sampler comic featuring a preview of The Salon (and Picasso au naturel) was accidentally given to two 9-year-old boys on Free Comic Book Day in Rome, Georgia. Parents found this so offensive and upsetting that they decided to have the retailer arrested, launching a 4-year debacle where prosecutors generally embarrassed Rome by repeatedly dropping and refiling charges and even inciting a mistrial.

BANNED:

Rushdie wrote a novel that satirized some of the more narrow-minded and (to Westerners, at least) antiquated aspects of zealotous Islam. He included a murderous, fringe, irrational, power-abusing character modeled after Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini. Ayatollah decreed a fatwa, calling on “all good Muslims” to kill Rushdie. Rushdie went into hiding after repeated attempts on his life (and the lives of others connected to the book, like the translator).

CHALLENGED:

When it was first published, the novel was controversial because of its sexual content, which Hurston brought to life through Janie, the main character, and her struggle through three marriages and poverty. Janie tries to find her identity and voice in a society where, because of her gender and race, she is brought down to the lowest social class. According to the ALA, the book was unsuccessfully “challenged for sexual explicitness” at Stonewall Jackson High School in Virginia, where a parent requested it be removed from the academically advanced reading list.

BANNED:

Racism, language, and a rape scene are the usual culprits when banning this book. Many black community members have protested the racist language used in the book, especially the n-word. Harper Lee was attempting to highlight the rampant racism of her time in this much beloved book in an attempt to change the wrongs she saw in society.

CHALLENGED:

Removed from a spring break elective course after a parent complained about sexual content. The complainant further suggested that the school only allow “youth versions” of particular books or organize a parental review system over the summer that would look at books that students need parental permission to read. A checklist was proposed for use to review books and other instructional materials.

BANNED:

In the original 1987 edition of “Where’s Waldo?”, a topless woman can be seen sunbathing in the beach scene.

CHALLENGED:

Shel Silverstein's book of poetry A Light in the Attic (1981) was challenged and then banned at Cunningham Elementary School in Wisconsin because it “encourages children to break dishes so they won't have to dry them.” Another elementary school concurred: some of Silverstein's poems, according to them, “glorified Satan, suicide and cannibalism, and also encouraged children to be disobedient.”

BANNED:

Everyone's favorite childhood book was banned from a public library in Colorado because it was considered “sexist” since the boy keeps returning to the female tree, taking more and more from her without giving anything back. It was also challenged by several schools because it “criminalized the foresting agency.”