Book banning is as American as apple pie, baseball and clutching your pearls until the blood drains from your face.
I don’t know about you, but the minute someone tells me I can’t have something, I immediately need to have that thing, no matter what it takes or how many lollipops I have to snatch from adorable babies. That’s why, when I heard about the concept of banned books as a kid, I went and checked one out from my library pronto. As soon as I started reading it, I didn’t get what was so terrible about it. I purposefully checked out Lady Chatterly’s Lover because someone told me it was banned due to sexy bits, and it turns out that it was boring like whoa.
The fact is, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, so the more someone gets worked up about how The Lorax isn’t suitable for children because it “criminalizes the forest industry” (pause for enormous eyeroll accompanied by a loud sigh) the more determined I am to let my child read that book.
Of course, it works the other way around, too. Once a book becomes too popular, some parents want to know what kind of black seductive magic it contains. Take The Fault In Our Stars, by John Green. It’s one of the most popular books in recent memory, so of course a group of parents in Los Angeles want to see it yanked from middle school shelves. Why? Because of a very brief, very vanilla passage wherein two kids with cancer have sex. The mom leading the charge to pull the book said that, “she didn’t want to ‘come off as a prude’ or block anyone’s freedom to read.”
Here’s a spot of news for her: You do and you are. Stop it.
So, in honor of Banned Book Week, here’s a bunch of books that people think your children shouldn’t be exposed to, which is why you need to go get them right now.
Books for little kids
1. Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola
Strega Nona was banned for being a spell-casting witchcraft-loving devil woman shilling Satan to kids before it was cool. It’s also a fun story about way too much spaghetti. (Amazon, $9)
2. Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
Believe it or not, A.A. Milne’s classic books have been challenged or banned as recently as 2006 because talking animals are an “affront to God.” You truly can not make this kind of thing up. (Amazon, $23)
3. Yertle the Turtle by Dr. Seuss
It isn’t a secret that Theodore Giesel, aka Dr. Seuss, wrote children’s books with deeper meanings, not unlike all of those dick and fart jokes in all of the Shrek movies, only way less lame, obviously. But did you know that some morons in British Columbia recently banned Yertle the Turtle for the following line? “I know up on top you are seeing great sights, but down here at the bottom, we too should have rights.” What a controversial idea. (Amazon, $12)
4. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
Sylvester was banned because the police in the book are literal pigs. I guess we’re really doing this, huh? We’re just going to ignore that the main character is a literal jackass, but head straight into a tantrum about pig cops. Huh. Okay, then. (Amazon, $6)
5. Heather Has Two Mommies by Lesléa Newman
Do you really have to guess why this book was banned? Read it to your kids anyway because eff that noise. (Amazon, $8)
Books for tweens
6. James and The Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Not gonna lie, this Roald Dahl book is a smidge depressing. But the book is surprisingly challenged more often for “encouraging disobedience to parents” and “magical elements” than for the depiction of the abuse James suffers at the hands of his gross aunts. (Amazon, $4)
7. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
Banned for all of the witchcraft and wizardry, which is also coincidentally a great reason to get it for your kids. (Amazon, $7)
8. My Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
This work of historical fiction is most often challenged for its portrayal of “excessive violence.” Apparently parents imagine that children will never deduce that war is bloody without the corrupting influence of good books. Because kids are stupid or something. (Amazon, $6)
9. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
This book is challenged due to the scene between Julie and Daniel, where Daniel attempts to rape his wife. Still one of my favorite books, and I maintain that I chose motherhood because of my preadolescent desire to live with a pack of wolves. (Amazon, $7)
10. Anne Frank: The Diary of A Young Girl
This is actually banned for “pornographic passages.” Let that sink in. Heart-wrenching firsthand account of one of the greatest atrocities in human history? Meh. Masturbation? Whoa, put on the brakes! (Amazon, $13)
Books for teens
11. The Absolutely True Diary of A Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
This is one of the most banned and challenged books of the year, and if that doesn’t make you curious about what wonders lie between its pages, you are dead inside. Yes, it has profanity. But I promise it won’t be the first time your teenager is exposed to the F-word. It might be their first exposure to a Native author, which is just one of the many, many reasons why you should get it. (Amazon, $14)
12. The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
People think this book will give your kid The Gay. If you think that’s how The Gay works, you don’t deserve this book anyway. (Amazon, $5)
13. Basically anything by Toni Morrison
Constantly badass, constantly banned. The Bluest Eye, Beloved, Song of Solomon… if Morrison wrote it, some verklempt suburban tightass banned it. That alone is reason enough to read it. (Amazon, $9)
14. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Banned because by reading it, your child might realize that rape is a thing. Wouldn’t want that, now would we? (Amazon, $3)
15. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Included here for the irony. People banned a book about banning (and burning) books. What better way to give those people a big metaphorical middle finger, the likes of which would make Ray Bradbury proud? (Amazon, $9)