You always knew your kid had a rebellious side. But it wasn’t until you perused her bookcase that you realized the full extent. Yup, we’re talking banned books. We found 14 popular kids books that have spent time on the banned books list at one time or another, which, in our opinion, puts them at the top of the must-read category. Scroll down to see them all (you might be surprised!).
Let’s be honest. This book is every parent’s fantasy. After all who doesn’t want a song-activated magic pot that cooks them dinner? But Tomie dePaola’s classic tale of the Grandma Witch has been banned in several U.S. school libraries for promoting witchcraft. Want more timeless tales like this one? Check out our list of children’s classics.
Buy it now at amazon.com, $7.99.
Harriet the Spy
Readers the world over love Harriet the Spy, because not only does she tells it like it is, she also rides a dumbwaiter, and who wouldn’t want to try that? Over the years, the book has been banned in school libraries because parents are concerned it teaches children to “lie, spy, talk back and curse.”
Buy it at amazon.com, $6.29.
Where the Sidewalk Ends
Kids have loved the quirky drawings and odd poetry of Shel Silverstein for generations. But in 1986, the West Allis Milwaukee School District banned this particular poetry collection because of “drug reference, suicide, death and a disrespect for truth and authority.” Shortly after, a school district in Pennsylvania did the same.
Buy it on amazon.com, $13.59.
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
Magical wardrobes, talking lions and evil queens: Narnia’s got dibs on some of the best fantasy elements ever written. But the first book in this popular series was first banned in 1990 because adults were concerned by its “graphic violence, mysticism and gore.” Then in 2005, a group focused on the separation of church and state tried banning the book from Florida’s public schools after then Governor, Jeb Bush promoted it in a statewide reading contest.
Ages: 8 & up.
Buy it on amazon.com, $4.99.
Where the Wild Things Are
You’ve read this one to your sidekick so many times, you’ve got it memorized. But when this classic hit the scene in 1963, it caused quite a stir. Banned in many southern states for depicting child abuse (the no-go supper for Max), it’s also been challenged for being “too dark” and showing supernatural elements. If you’re looking for more books to put on your nighttime reading list try one of these all-time faves.
Buy it on amazon.com, $6.36.
A Wrinkle in Time
Your kids can’t wait to see this one in theaters, and you’ve got the tickets to prove it. But this Newbery Award winner’s been challenged a few times for undermining religious beliefs, and in 1985 it was challenged at a Florida elementary school for promoting witchcraft, crystal balls and demons.
Buy it now at amazon.com, $4.97.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
More a case of mistaken identity than concern over content, Bill Martin’s classic children’s book was banned by the Texas State Board of Education in 2010. It turns out that the children’s author didn’t also pen Ethical Marxism: The Categorical Imperative of Liberation. Oops!
Buy it now at amazon.com, $6.08.
Harry Potter series
J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series has been translated into 68 different languages, distributed in over 200 different territories worldwide, and has sold over 450 million copies at last count. And the number of challenges and bans on this series, usually for depicting witchcraft and wizardry and promoting anti-family themes, is also impressive. By 2000, it had been challenged about 650 different times. Looking for other books with staying power? Check out this list of 100 that need to be on your bookshelf.
Ages: 8 & up.
Buy it now at amazon.com, $8.99.
Bridge to Terabithia
Another Newbery Award winner, this story of friendship and loss is a definite tearjerker. But it wasn’t the tragic death of a friend that led the New Brighton Area School District in Pennsylvania to remove it from their 5th-grade classrooms. They were concerned about the disrespect, foul language and confusion that could be created when kids read about Terabithia, the fantasy world dreamed up by BFFs Jesse and Leslie.
Ages: 9 & up.
Buy it now at amazon.com, $5.29.
The Family Book
Families coming in all shapes, sizes and colors is the theme of this popular Todd Parr book. But concerns over depicting families that have two moms or two dads kept this bold and colorful paperback off the shelves in the Erie School District in Illinois in 2012.
Buy it now at amazon.com, $5.99.
Captain Underpants series
If your kid has read the book, watched the movie and bought the T-shirt, then you’re not alone. But you might be surprised to find that this popular Dave Pilkey series was at one time the most banned book in the country. In the early books, concerns were raised over content that wasn’t suited for the age group and encouraging disobedience. But the released of the 12th book caused new concerns over references to Harold being gay.
Buy it now at amazon.com, $4.50 & up.
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble
This story of a donkey who wishes himself into a rock set off alarm bells with the Illinois Police Association. In 1977 they challenged the book because the police are depicted as pigs in the story. In the aftermath, it was banned in many parts of the U.S.
Buy it now at amazon.com, $10.59.
Junie B. Jones series
If you cringe every time you read Junie B. Jones to your kids and she “runned speedy quick” or “did a shrug” or commits some other crime against grammar, you’re not alone. In fact, most of the challenges to this series are about Junie’s speech patterns and the fact it might encourage young readers to follow suit.
Buy it now at amazon.com, $13.29 for the first set of four.
How many have you read with your kids? Did you find any surprises? Leave your thoughts in a comment.
— Allison Sutcliffe