Banned Books Week

Barbara J. Feldman

Every September, Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to choose and the importance of ensuring the availability of all viewpoints. I chose the books below from a list of frequently challenged books. What’s the difference between a challenge and a ban? According to the American Library Association, “A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials.” Because of the efforts of librarians, teachers and many other concerned citizens, most challenges do not succeed. As always, my star ratings apply to the Web sites, not the books they feature.

  • Diary of Anne Frank5 stars

    For her thirteenth birthday, Anne Frank's parents gave her a diary. "I hope I will be able to confide everything to you, as I have never been able to confide in anyone, and I hope you will be a great source of comfort and support." Just one month later (July 1942), Anne and her family went into hiding to escape from the Nazis. For the next two years, living in a cramped Amsterdam annex, Anne's writings filled two notebooks. To date, more than twenty-five million copies have been printed in fifty-five languages. Various reasons have been used to justify banning Anne Frank's acclaimed diary. In one 1983 incident, four members of the Alabama State Textbook Committee called for its removal because it was a "real downer."

  • Goosebumps4 stars

    This series of scary books from the prolific R. L. Stine has been challenged in schools and libraries across the country, but many parents (pleased to have their young sons so interested in reading) have rallied to its defense. Although my son never "got into them," many of his classmates were among those "gobbling up his books at an eye-popping rate of 1.25 million copies a month."

  • Huckleberry Finn: Banned Books and American Culture4 stars

    Huckleberry Finn was first banned when it was published in 1885. Officials at the Concord Public Library thought it "rough, coarse and inelegant." In February of this year, the Pennsylvania NAACP announced a campaign to remove Huckleberry Finn from the state's school reading lists. The irony is that this book, originally criticized for showing slaves in a favorable manner, is now lambasted for its "racist tone." Decide for yourself. The entire book is available online.

  • Little Red Riding Hood5 stars

    This delightful slide show is narrated in RealAudio format by a professional Mother Goose storyteller. In 1990, a traditional version of Little Red Riding Hood was removed from schools in Empire, California because of the wine Little Red brought her grandmother. Authorities said the story "condones the use of alcohol." This online version, however, does not include the bottle of wine. For those fascinated by the history of this fairy tale, click on over to the University of Southern Mississippi's Little Red Riding Hood Project

  • Official Katherine Paterson Site4 stars

    Another contemporary writer that shows up frequently on banned book lists is Katherine Paterson. Her Newbery Award-winning Bridge to Terabithia has been challenged due to "profanity, disrespect of adults, and an elaborate fantasy world that might lead to confusion." When asked how she responds to those wanting to ban The Great Gilly Hopkins, Ms. Paterson replied "Gilly is a lost child who lies, steals, bullies . . . She would not be real if her mouth did not match her behavior."

  • Honorable Mentions

    The following links are either new discoveries or sites that didn't make it into my newspaper column because of space constraints. Enjoy!


    Cite This Page

  • Feldman, Barbara. "Banned Books Week." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 23 Sep. 1998. Web. 8 Oct. 2014. <http://www.surfnetkids.com/resources/banned/ >.


  • About This Page

  • By . Originally published September 23, 1998. Last modified July 10, 2014.

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