Every year at this time, the last week of September, I get some enjoyment from reading through the lists of frequently challenged books at the website of the American Library Association. It’s Banned Books Week!
Every year, some of my favorite books appear on the list. At least 46 of the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century are on the list of challenged or banned books, and the titles of those books reads like a high school required reading list. Take at look at these works of literature:
- The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
- The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
- To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
- 1984, by George Orwell
- Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
- Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
- Animal Farm, by George Orwell
- A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
- Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
- Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
Other books that have been banned or challenged include:
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain was banned for the language and treatment of African Americans depicted in the book. While the book depicts the conditions of the time, some apparently feel such descriptions are inappropriate.
- The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank was banned for sexually offensive passages and the tragedy of the events described.
- The Call of the Wild, by Jack London was banned because it was “too radical.” In the story, a dog named Buck reverts to his wild impulses in the Alaskan wilderness.
- Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury is a novel about book banning and censorship. It was banned because… well… I guess that’s obvious.
- James and the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl was banned because it describes the abuse that James experienced. Among other things, the book was challenged because it supposedly encouraged disobedience to parents.
- The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding is about a group of schoolboys who survive a plane crash and attempt to set up their own form of government. It was banned because of excessive violence and bad language.
- A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle was banned for offensive language and for references to witches, crystal balls, and demons.
- In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak tells of a young boy, Mickey, who falls out of bed, out of his pajamas, and into the night kitchen where he ends up making an airplane out of dough and flying back to bed. The book was banned because some of the drawings show Mickey naked.
Click on the image below to watch a You Tube video of a reading of Maurice Sendak’s In the Night Kitchen for the Banned Books Virtual Read-Out. You can watch other readings from banned books at the Banned Books You Tube Channel.
I must admit that I must be a little dense. I honestly couldn’t see the reasons for banning most of these books until someone else explained them to me.
What are your favorite banned books? During Banned Books Week, write a post on your blog or leave a comment here. Also read my article on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, the Catholic Church’s now defunct list of banned books on the Catholic Gene blog.
Have a Happy Banned Books Week!
Copyright © 2011 by Stephen J. Danko