Books should be a vehicle for learning new information and gaining new experiences. By banning books, especially in children’s spaces, we severely limit what knowledge is accessible to us. That’s why today, we’ll be looking at banned picture books that all children deserve to read and learning about why they were banned in the first place.
1. Prince & Knight
Prince & Knight begins very traditionally with a prince’s parents deciding that he must find a bride to rule with him when he becomes king. After searching far and wide and meeting many young ladies, the prince decides that they’re just not what he’s looking for in a partner. Eventually, the prince, with the help of a knight, must fight a dragon that’s attacking the kingdom. By the end of the battle, the two have fallen in love. Prince & Knight was written by Daniel Haack and illustrated by Stevie Lewis. It was banned for featuring LGBTQ+ protagonists and supposedly trying to indoctrinate children into becoming LGBTQ+ themselves.
2. Our Skin: A First Conversation About Race
Our Skin: A First Conversation About Race is a celebration of racial diversity. The book aims to teach children about different types of skin tones, whether by describing how melatonin levels make our skin look different, or by introducing children to the concept of race. Authors Megan Madison and Jessica Ralli also emphasize that race doesn’t determine what a person is like and work to discourage both intentional and unintentional racism. Our Skin: A First Conversation About Race was illustrated by Isabel Roxas and banned for showing that white people are to blame for racism.
3. The Family Book
The Family Book by Todd Parr is a board book about different types of families. These range from big families, to small families, to families who look alike, to families who don’t. The point is that every type of family is special, no matter their similarities or differences. What got The Family Book banned was its inclusion of families who have two moms and families who have two dads. Like many banned books, The Family Book was challenged for featuring LGBTQ+ characters.
4. Something Happened In Our Town
Something Happened In Our Town follows two children, one black and one white, as they learn about the shooting of an innocent black man that occurred in their neighborhood. The children discuss the issue with their parents, asking about racial injustice and what they can do to help. Along with the story, authors Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard provide a guide to help parents and caregivers teach their children about race. Something Happened In Our Town was illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin. It was banned for its anti-police messaging and more specifically, for showing kids that police can not always be trusted.
5. Jacob’s New Dress
Jacob’s New Dress is about a boy who feels more comfortable in dresses than traditionally masculine clothing. Jacob wears dresses while playing dress up, his Halloween costume features a long witch’s robe, and he even tries to fashion his own makeshift dress out of a bath towel. Finally, Jacob and his mom work on making him an actual dress that he can wear out. Jacob’s New Dress was written by Sarah and Ian Hoffman and illustrated by Chris Case. It was banned for its celebration of gender nonconformity and for encouraging transgenderism.
For more content about banned books, check out this article on 5 Young Adult Banned Books By Hispanic Authors!