13 Banned Books That Will Always Have a Place on Our Shelves
It’s always surprising to us which books wind up on the banned books list each year. They might be banned for violence or drug use or “inappropriate” sexual relationships. But we believe that everyone who has the desire should have the opportunity to read these books and judge the content for themselves.
Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden increase in challenges to books in schools, bookstores, and libraries. Each September, publishers, librarians, booksellers, and readers celebrate the freedom to read and raise awareness about the problems of book censorship. We’ve collected some of the most challenged books here based on BannedBooksWeek.org and the American Library Association.
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FUN HOME is the dark graphic memoir that inspired the Tony Award–winning Broadway musical of the same name. In it, Alison Bechdel’s fraught relationship with her late father changed for the better when she came out as a lesbian in college and discovered that he was also gay.
2The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
This one has also been adapted into a Tony Award–winning play. It’s told through the eyes of a fifteen-year-old autistic boy who is on a quest to uncover the cause of the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog.
3The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
As a teenager, Junior is a skilled cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to have a successful future, he attends an all-white farm-town high school where the only other Native American is the school mascot.
PERSEPOLIS is Marjane Satrapi’s powerful graphic memoir about her experiences growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. Detailing her life in Tehran from ages 6 to 14, she bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.
5The Bluest Eye
THE BLUEST EYE follows a young black girl who is desperate to fit in with her peers, so she prays every day to have blonde hair and blue eyes. This powerful novel by Toni Morrison examines race, class, adolescence, and beauty.
6The Kite Runner
Set against the backdrop of tumultuous, war-torn Afghanistan, THE KITE RUNNER is an unforgettable and heartbreaking story of friendship, family, and redemption.
Listen to clip of the audiobook:
7A Stolen Life
A STOLEN LIFE is Jaycee Dugard’s raw and powerful memoir about being kidnapped in 1991, when she was 11 years old, and held captive for more than 18 years.
8I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
As joyous and painful, as mysterious and memorable as childhood itself, Maya Angelou’s debut memoir captures the longing of lonely children, the brute insult of bigotry, and the power of words to make the world right.
9Snow Falling on Cedars
Set on a small island in Puget Sound, this gripping, tragic, and densely atmospheric novel appears on the surface to be a whodunit—but it delves much deeper into a community whose history and collective memory still haunts its residents.
10A Time to Kill
In the small, mostly white town of Clanton, Mississippi, two drunk and remorseless young men commit a terrible crime against a 10-year-old girl. When the girl’s black father decides to take justice into his own hands, defense attorney Jake Brigance struggles to save his client’s life.
11My Sister’s Keeper
In this emotionally riveting story, Jodi Picoult tackles the controversial subject of what it means to be a good parent and a good sister with keen insight and grace.
MY SISTER’S KEEPER portrays a family is torn apart by conflicting needs between two daughters.
Listen to clip of the audiobook:
By age 12, Luis Rodriguez was a veteran of East Los Angeles gang warfare. But after years of losing his friends and family members to violence and prisons, he saw a way out of his circumstances through education and the power of words—and he became an award-winning poet. ALWAYS RUNNING is his memoir.
13The Lovely Bones
After her death in 1973, Susie Salmon is adjusting to her new home in heaven and watching life on earth continue without her. From above, she learns more about the man who took her life, and watches as her father searches for answers.