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When students in Waterloo read “Lord of the Flies” at school, protesters tried to stop them.
The book, about middle school boys stranded on an island, was very controversial in the Iowa school district in 1992. According to the American Library Association, protesters of the book said it was too profane, lurid, and defamatory to God, women and people with disabilities to be read by kids in school.
People have long tried to ban a growing list of novels and other texts from schools. To push back — and to celebrate “the right to read” — librarians and other freedom of expression groups created Banned Books Week. This year’s week started Sunday.
Print and color the picture at the top of this story featuring characters from banned books.
To print, simply click this link to open the pdf in a new window, then download the file to your computer and print it.
Illustration by Ramona Muse Lambert.
Challenged books are books that people have objected to and tried to remove or restrict others’ access to, while banned books are books that have been completely forbidden, usually due to major issues within them.
Just because a book has been challenged or banned doesn’t mean it isn’t available to read in another school or region. It is a good clue, however, that the book caused some controversy.
While not everyone agrees on whether these books should have been banned, many of them do contain controversial messages. If you want to check them out — double-check with a trusted adult and be aware of what you might find inside.
Here are six examples of frequently challenged or banned books, according to the Colorado State University library.
‘Harry Potter’ by J.K. Rowling
This series was frequently challenged and in severe cases banned for its incorporation of magic and witchcraft.
‘Little Red Riding Hood’ by the Brothers Grimm
A version of this fairy tale was banned in some California schools because Little Red had a wine bottle in her basket.
‘Lord of the Flies’ by William Golding
This novel was challenged twice in Texas Independent School districts and in Waterloo, Iowa, schools. The challenges were because of the book’s profanity and statements that were defamatory to minoritized groups of people, like people of color and people with disabilities.
‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ by Lewis Carroll
This story was banned in New Hampshire in 1900 for its sexual references. Other institutions also challenged this book in the 1960s because they believed it promoted drug use to children.
‘Charlotte's Web’ by E.B. White
This book was banned in Kansas in 2006 after objectors argued the talking animals were an insult to God.
‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ by Roald Dahl
This novel was locked away in a library in Colorado because a librarian believed it promoted “a poor philosophy of life.”
Mishka MohamedNour is a student at West High School and an editor, reporter and designer for the West Side Story.