13 Banned Books That Will Always Have a Place on Our Shelves

September 29 2016
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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.

Are you a librarian? The S&S Education & Library website has additional resources and title recommendations. Follow the team on Facebook and Twitter.

Fun Home
by Alison Bechdel

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.

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Fun Home
Alison Bechdel

In this groundbreaking graphic memoir and inspiration for the recent Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, Alison Bechdel charts her fraught relationship with her late father, the director of a small town funeral home, until she came out as a lesbian in college and discovered that he was also gay.

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
by Mark Haddon

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.

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Mark Haddon

Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow. The basis for the hit Broadway show, the improbable story of Christopher's quest to investigate the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog makes for one of the most captivating, unusual, and widely heralded novels in recent years.

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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
by Sherman Alexie

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.

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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Sherman Alexie

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.

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Persepolis
by Marjane Satrapi

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.

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Persepolis
Marjane Satrapi

Wise, funny, and heartbreaking, Marjane Satrapi’s memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution is intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original. The child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors, Satrapi bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.

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The Bluest Eye
by Toni Morrison

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.

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The Bluest Eye
Toni Morrison

Pecola Breedlove is a young black girl who prays every day for the blonde hair and blue eyes that she believes will allow her to fit in with her peers. This novel is a powerful examination of beauty, conformity, race, class, and gender from the legendary Toni Morrison.

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The Kite Runner
by Khaled Hosseini

Set against the backdrop of tumultuous, war-torn Afghanistan, THE KITE RUNNER is an unforgettable and heartbreaking story of friendship, family, and redemption.

 

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The Kite Runner
Khaled Hosseini

Set against the backdrop of tumultuous, war-torn Afghanistan, THE KITE RUNNER is an unforgettable and heartbreaking story of friendship, family, and redemption.

 

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A Stolen Life
by Jaycee Dugard

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.

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A Stolen Life
Jaycee Dugard

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.

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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
by Maya Angelou

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.

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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Maya Angelou

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 wonder of words that can make the world right. Maya Angelou was awarded in 2011.

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Snow Falling on Cedars
by David Guterson

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.

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Snow Falling on Cedars
David Guterson

Set on a small island in Puget Sound, this gripping, tragic, and densely atmospheric novel is a masterpiece that will leave you shaken and changed.

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A Time to Kill
by John Grisham

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.

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A Time to Kill
John Grisham

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.

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My Sister's Keeper
by Jodi Picoult

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:

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My Sister's Keeper
Jodi Picoult

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:

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Always Running
by Luis J. Rodriguez

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.

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Always Running
Luis J. Rodriguez

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.

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The Lovely Bones
by Alice Sebold

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.

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The Lovely Bones
Alice Sebold

After her death in 1973, Susie Salmon is adjusting to her new home in heaven, and watching life on earth continue without her. Her friends are trading rumors about her disappearance, her killer is trying to cover his tracks, her grief-stricken family is unraveling. From above, Susie learns more about the man who took her life, and watches as her father searches for answers.

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