Books can change the way people think and act. For that reason, some people have tried to ban certain books and prevent ideas from spreading. Calls for books to be banned have come from parents who don't want their children exposed to certain ideas in schools, as well as from politicians and government officials who don't want the general public to question the status quo.
Banned Book Week is a time to stand against censorship and promote books with ideas so big, they scare people.
Here are 15 once-banned books that need to be read.
1. "Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret" by Judy Blume
Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret is the pinnacle book about what it's like to be a young girl dealing with a body changing because of puberty and exploring sexuality. Labeled immoral and offensive, it was banned from classrooms in several states. Many of Judy Blume's books have been the subject of controversy throughout her career for similar themes, but Margaret is among the most noteworthy.
2. "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" by Stephen Chbosky
Another coming-of-age tale, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower references drugs, masturbation, sex, and other themes that some parents have deemed unacceptable for teens to read.
3. "Where The Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak
While this classic children's tale might seem like an odd addition to the list, Where The Wild Things Are was once restricted because of "dark themes" and a child who rebelled against his parents. It was meant to be an honest look at the harder parts of childhood, which was evidently too much for some adults to process.
4. "To Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee
5. "Slaughterhouse-Five" by Kurt Vonnegut
Slaughterhouse Five was banned in various school districts due to violence, sexual references, and alleged blasphemy. However, it is widely heralded for its overarching story of the hells of war.
6. "The Diary Of A Young Girl" by Anne Frank
One of the most iconic books about the Holocaust, Anne Frank's Diary Of A Young Girl has been banned in some areas for being offensive, as she begins to explore her feelings about her sexuality. It has also been criticized for being too depressing, as one might expect from a personal narrative from a child hiding from genocide.
7. "The Giver" by Lois Lowry
The Giver is a story of a dystopian society largely without personal choice, which some have viewed as "dark" and inappropriate.
8. "Nineteen Eighty-Four" by George Orwell
Orwell's iconic Nineteen Eighty-Four has been banned in many school districts for being "immoral" and, during the Cold War, for promoting communist ideals.
9. "Harry Potter" series, by J.K. Rowling
All of the books in the Harry Potter series have been criticized for dark and violent themes, and the depiction of magic has been criticized for going against the religious beliefs of some.
10. "Uncle Tom's Cabin" by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Uncle Tom's Cabin casts a harsh light on the realities of slavery. The book was widely restricted among those in favor of slavery.
FUN FACT: When President Abraham Lincoln met author Harriet Beecher Stowe during the Civil War, he allegedly greeted her by saying, "So you're the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war." Never let anyone say books aren't important!
11. "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Scarlet Letter is a gut-wrenching tale of a woman rejected by society after an extramarital affair. It has been banned for being critical of Puritanical ideals and for being "obscene."
12. "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings depicts Maya Angelou's troubled early life, riddled with racism, sexual abuse, and other heavy themes. For these reasons, many parents have objected to this book being read in classrooms.
13. "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain
Deemed as racially insensitive, Mark Twain's Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn has been banned or censored in a number of districts. While the frequent use of the n-word would rightly be unacceptable today, it was fairly common during the time the book was written. Censoring the book to not include these references is essentially the same as pretending this discriminatory behavior never happened.
14. "A Light In The Attic" by Shel Silverstein
A Light In The Attic is a collection of poems for children. However, some of the entries are seen as violent and encouraging youngsters to be disrespectful.
15. "Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury
The ultimate in irony, Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 — a novel about a dystopian society where the possession of books is strictly prohibited — has frequently wound up on ban lists because of mild vulgarity, and because a Bible is burned in it (along with literally every other book ever written).
Encourage your friends to read banned literature by sharing this list with a friend!