Read These if You Dare: Banned Books Week

September 27-October 3, 2020 is the annual Banned Books Week event — a celebration of the freedom to read. This event was launched in 1982, responding to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores, and libraries, and highlighting the value of free and open access to information. You can learn more about banned books, Banned Books Week, and find out how many are celebrating this year’s event by going to the Banned Books Week website.

Check out some children’s books below that have been banned or challenged in recent years — and read them if you dare!

Gino, Alex
George. 2015 (Middle Grade).
George knows people see a boy when they look at her. But she knows she’s not a boy; she knows she’s a girl, and she thinks she’ll have to keep this secret forever. But when her teacher announces the class is going to be doing the play Charlotte’s Web, George is set on playing Charlotte. When the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part because she’s a boy, George and her best friend Kelly come up with a plan so everyone can know who she is, once and for all. This book has been banned for including a transgender child.
[S. G434g]

Haack, Daniel
Illustrated by: Stevie Lewis
Prince and Knight. 2018 (Picture Book).
A prince next in line to take the throne, a dragon, and a brave knight — this picture book tells a story of a prince searching for a bride, a dragon threatening the kingdom, and a knight in shining armor brave enough to defeat the dragon. As they work to slay the dragon threatening the kingdom, the prince and knight find true love in each other. This picture has been banned for the same sex relationship developed throughout the book.
[Q. SE. H113pr]

Herthel, Jessica and Jazz Jennings
Illustrated by: Shelagh McNicholas
I am Jazz! 2014 (Picture Book Biography).
Based on the real-life experience of Jazz Jennings, a spokesperson for trankids everywhere, this picture book follows Jazz, who at two years old knew she had a girl’s brain in a boy’s body. It explores her family’s adjustment period to her transition, her classmates’ behavior towards her, and touches on how important it is to be accepting of and loving people for who they are. This book has been banned for being about a transgender child.
[Q. SE. H44i]

Hoffman, Sarah and Ian Hoffman
Illustrated by: Chris Case
Jacob’s New Dress. 2014 (Picture Book).
Jacob loves playing dress up, when he can be anything he wants to be. When Jacob wants to wear a dress to school, he’s met with some pushback from classmates, his teacher, and his parents. But Jacob works hard to convince everyone that he can be who he wants to be and wear his dress to preschool. This book has been banned because of the gender-nonconforming and transgender character.
(SE. H672jane]

Pitman, Gayle.
Illustrated by: Kristyna Litten
This Day in June. 2014 (Picture Book).
The tale of a pride parade and all the people you can meet there, this picture book is bursting with color and is told in verse form. The end of the book has a reading guide that explains each verse and how it relates to LGBTQ history. It also includes a resource guide at the back for parents wanting to talk about LGBTQ issues and topics with their children. This book has been banned because of the LGBTQ content.
[Q. SE. P683t]

McGinnis, Mindy.
Heroine. 2019 (Teen).
This is the story of Mickey, a senior in high school whose promising future in softball has colleges offering her scholarships left and right. But that future comes to a standstill after a car crash shatters Mickey’s hip. Mickey, however, is still determined, working hard to heal quickly for softball tryouts — all with the help of some painkillers that take the pain away and make her feel good. Pressures heighten, needs increase, and the painkillers become more than just a way to heal. This book has been challenged because of the detailed scenes of drug abuse.
[S. M1759he]

Mead, Richelle
Vampire Academy. 2007 (Teen).
The first of a six book series following Rose Hathaway, a guardian to a magical race of mortal vampires against the soulless and vicious immortal vampires. Rose’s journey is filled with action, adventure, friendship, romance, duty, magic, and sass as she goes through her last year of guardian training with the goal of being the guardian for her best friend Lissa. This book has been banned for content including vampires, magic, and sexual content.
[S. M4613v]

Tamaki, Mariko and Jillian Tamaki
This One Summer. 2014 (Teen Graphic Novel).
With stunning artwork, this graphic novel follows Rose as she heads back to her summer lake house — a getaway and refuge for her and her friend Windy. But this summer is different, with Rose’s parents constantly fighting and new problems cropping up as Rose and Windy seek distraction. This piece explores secrets and sorrow and growing on the cusp of teen-hood. This graphic novel has been banned because it includes LGBTQ characters, drug use, and profanity.
[S.741.5971 T15t]

Telgemeier, Raina.
Colorist: Gurihiru
Grown. 2012 (Middle Grade Graphic Novel).
Callie loves theater, and while trying out for her middle school’s musical would be a blast, she can’t really sing. Instead, Callie’s the set designer for the drama department stage crew and she’s determined to create a set worthy of Broadway. But she’s met with resistance when she doesn’t know anything about carpentry, ticket sales are down, and the crew members are having trouble working together. And of course, more drama than just onstage occurs when actors are chosen and two cute brothers enter the picture! This graphic novel has been banned for being sexually explicit and for LGBTQ content.
[S.741.5973 T271d]

Twiss, Jull
Illustrated by: E.G. Keller and Charlotte Pence
A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo. 2018 (Picture Book).
Marlon Bundo is a lonely bunny who lives with his grandpa, Mike Pence—the Vice President of the United States. This is the story of a very special boy bunny who falls in love with another boy bunny. It explores issues of same sex marriage and democracy while weaving a tale of tolerance and advocacy. This book has been banned because of the LGBTQ content.
[Q. SE. B8826da]

And as an added bonus, if you would like to know more about book banning and how it can either help or hurt, check out the following book all about book banning in a high school:

Connis, Dave.
Suggested Reading. 2019 (Teen).
Clara Evans is horrified when she discovers her principal’s “prohibited media” list. The books have been pulled from the library and aren’t allowed anywhere on the school’s premises, and students caught with the contraband will be punished. Clara herself has been impacted by many of the stories on this list and decides she’s going to rebel by starting an underground library, supplying the banned books to her classmates out of her locker. But Clara is faced with conflicting feelings and grief when one of the books she loves is connected to tragedy, making her wonder if it’s better to ban these books than let others read them.
[S. C76282su]

[ZN]

Banned Books Week: September 24-October 1, 2005

“Banned Books Week (BBW) celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met.” — American Library Association Web site [link]

This site along with many others offers background information about banned or challenged books. You can also find a list of the 100 most frequently challenged adult and children’s books of 1990-2000 at [link]

Banned Books Online [http://digital.library.upenn.edu/books/banned-books.html] offers an essay discussing banned books with a section devoted to children’s books.

Our own Web site on challenged children’s books [http://www.library.uiuc.edu/edx/challenged.htm] provides a listing of children’s books with summaries categorized by format: picture books, children’s books (including early readers and chapter books), and young adult books.

Exploring challenged/banned books will offer insights into what is controversial at different times in society as well as what issues remain controversial over extended periods. Read, explore, and think!