“It is positively unAmerican to allow anyone to tell you what you can or cannot read.”

[Reposting from 2014]

I said that, to a television reporter in Omaha during Banned Books Week a while back. The next day the ticket agent at the airport told me he’d seen it on television the night before and upgraded me to first class.

Which is not necessarily why you should support —

Banned Books Week!

Banned Books Week 2014

Support the US Constitution!
Read a banned book today!

Find a worthy title on the ALA’s Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books. Here, let me start you off with a few:

1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling (Seriously? Still? Unbelievable.)

6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou (On my to-read shelf. Come and take it from me, copper!)

13. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey (Oh, please.)

14. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain (Would that be because the word “Nigger” is in it? Like that word was never used in Mark Twain’s time, or today, either.)

16. Forever, by Judy Blume (Why is Judy Blume always on these lists? Perhaps because she teaches kids necessary things about life their parents can’t or just plain won’t?)

17. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker (One of the best books about women ever written.)

21. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (Here, I pause to throw down the gauntlet to absolutely anyone who would DARE to ban that book from my shelves. My sword and shield are ready!)

26. Beloved, by Toni Morrison (A book that frightened the life out of me, I grant you, but I’m as white as you can get without bleach and only a book like this could make me understand, even a little bit, what slavery meant. And means.)

70. Harris and Me, by Gary Paulsen (Well, we certainly don’t want our kids laughing out loud, now, do we?)

88. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
89. Friday Night Lights, by H.G. Bissenger (I add these two books just for their juxtaposition on the list.)


Buy a Banned Book today! Check out a Banned Book from your library! Download one on your iPad! Loan one to a friend! Give one as a gift! Bring a Banned Book to your next school board meeting and sit in the front row and READ IT! Up against the establishment! Stick it to the man!

Banned Books Week


Dana View All →

Author and founder of Storyknife.org.

17 Comments Leave a comment

  1. There was a BIG display of banned books in my local library. All the books had a label attached that read “banned.” I had to read the poster next to the display to understand what was going on. Many of the books listed above were in the display.

  2. Read them all, I have but then again I was unaware they were banned here, and question everything. Critical thinking is at the very heart of ANY democracy.

  3. My daughter’s Summer Reading list offered
    about 50 banned books, choose one, to celebrate Banned Book week not long after their return to school. Public High School. I was pretty impressed.

  4. _Huckleberry Finn_ is not banned b/c it used the “n” word. It is very properly banned b/c it is deeply subversive and the only kind of book worth reading.

    • Huckleberry Finn has also been banned because of the “n” word, Flynn.

      And yes, Matthew, the people who ban Fahrenheit 451 are oblivious to the irony. Probably because they don’t know how to read themselves. Certainly they’ve never read that book.

  5. Judy Blume has four books on this list. Other shockers on the list: “Bridge to Terebithia”, “Of Mice and Men”, “A Wrinkle in Time”, the “Junie B. Jones” series, and – irony of all ironies – “Farenheit 451”.

  6. I was a junior in high school in 1964/65 when my English teacher had us read Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye”. Parents went nuts and school board got that book off the curriculum, but not until we had finished it.
    I just finished reading Phillip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials”. I can see where especially the Catholic church might be upset with that series. So, I’ve done my duty for Banned Book week.

  7. i’ve read most every book on this banned list. They’re all wonderful reads. My freshman year of college, 1963, we were assigned Catcher in the Rye….best ever!! Gotta wonder why the ban!?! What do they think they’re protecting us from? Or is it more of the dumbing down process.

  8. I used to teach a unit in grade 8 and 9 Language Arts on banned books. The students loved it. Never had a parental complaint either!

  9. Here in Ireland we also had banned everything (long gone thankfully )My first thought here was ‘probably Republican controlled States’ Funny how society didn’t crumble when these dangerous items were let loose on an unsuspecting public.I’m guessing from other comments here that these offending items are generally available over there.Is there a more negative word in the English language than Banned ?.

  10. Banning books (“for the greater good”) is part and parcel of the human tendency to want to control others so that the world matches one’s own belief system. Because of course, one’s own belief system is the only correct one.

    If that actually worked what a boring world it would be. But because people keep trying, we get wars and persecution and other terrible things, but it starts with books.

    Yes, books would be the bottom line of things to ban. Books are written by thinkers, and reading them can lead to even more thinking. DANGER!

  11. I notice that Sylvester and the Magic Pebble is no longer on the frequently challenged list, which means that the times have changed a little bit. But Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, The Stupids, James and the Giant Peach, A Wrinkle in Time, Where the Sidewalk Ends and The Giver are all still there. Considering what I see on tv during the “family viewing time” this just makes me sad.

  12. In reading the post and comments, I’m proud to say that most of these books have been read by my husband, myself, and our 6 children (now grown), and most often they were read for class. Some actual kudos to the New York State and Tennessee school systems of the times.

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