10 Utterly Eye-Rolling Reasons Schools Have Banned Books

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Over the years, school districts and communities have tried time and again to kill ideas they don’t like by banning books about those ideas; generally for the flimsiest and most ridiculous reasons imaginable. And time and again, they have failed hilariously at their goal of pretending racism, sexism, and The Gay don’t exist. Today, to celebrate the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week, let’s take a fond look at some of the most inane straws people have grasped at to support their indignant, moralizing screeches about what books are simply too unsafe to put into the hands of our kids.

1. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

If you have had children, you have probably read this book, and if you have read this book, you probably remember that it’s a list of different colored animals. If you’re wondering what on earth could have been in the text to spur this book being challenged, the answer is “nothing”. Notice the author’s name up there? It turns out you can also buy a book by Bill Martin called Ethical Marxism. But here’s the kicker: these books were written by two different dudes, both named Bill Martin. Yes, a school district banned a book because they mistakenly thought the author might be a commie.

2. Harriet the Spy

This book about a tomboy often makes ban lists, theoretically based on the complaint that it will teach little girls to gossip and spy on their friends (which is sort of the opposite of what I thought the book was actually trying to say, but whatever). I remain suspicious that the real reason behind some of the times this book got kicked to the curb by school boards may have been its non-conformist tomboy protagonist and its lesbian author, Louise Fitzhugh.

3. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret

Shockingly enough, this classic Judy Blume book was not banned for its blatantly dorky fake iPhone chat cover. This book delves into territory that woman was not meant to know: menstruation. Far better to keep this book off the library shelf than to give a young woman some advance warning that the blood coming out of her is perfectly normal rather than that the Sin of Eve is finally taking its terrible toll on her body. Or that she has butt cancer, or whatever else a scared kid who has never heard the word “period” outside of grammar lessons is going to think.

4. Charlotte’s Web

This sweet children’s book wasn’t challenged by angry vegetarians who wanted to keep kids from learning that pigs can be turned into delicious bacon, although it does have something to do with what’s considered kosher. Kansas parents decided that talking pigs, chickens, rats, and spiders was tantamount to blasphemy – adorable, adorable blasphemy. Flying in the face of God’s plan for creation has never been so cute! Good luck to these parents as they undoubtedly go on to try to ban every fable, nursery rhyme, and cartoon ever made.


5. Where the Wild Things Are

God forbid your child read Maurice Sendak‘s book and get the atrocious idea that they’re not the only ones who get frustrated or upset sometimes. This Caldecott Medal winner is decried for glorifying protagonist Max’s tantrums – and, of course, because its beautiful, fantastical artwork might lead kids into the occult. No doubt the number of books I read as a child that were supposed to have seduced my soul for Satan explains why I’ve turned out the way I have.

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