Controversial Children’s Books

Even before we could read, we had stories we loved and books we adored. These stories all seemed cute and innocent; we thought so and our parents probably did too. Some of each generation’s most beloved children’s book, though, weren’t always seen in this light. While its common knowledge that some of the most iconic adult novels wrtr banned at some point or another, did you know that plenty of children’s books have been banned as well? Let’s take a look at some of the most controversial children’s books.

 The Lorax by Dr. Seuss 


Did any children not love Dr. Seuss? I can’t image it. He seems to be the best-loved children’s author of any generation. Most of his books have been adored by parents and children across the globe, but one of his most popular works was not so well received. When The Lorax was first released, it took the children’s literary world by storm as it tackled a controversial topic- environmentalism. Parents in California were instantly threatened by the book, as they didn’t want their children to see cutting down trees as a bad thing. People called for it to be banned for “criminalizing the foresting industry.” Thankfully, other parents praised the book and fought for the ban to be lifted.  To this day, it remains a popular choice for children everywhere

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak


Another children’s book that has endured through decades [and bans] is Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. According to It was banned in many of the Southern states upon its release in 1963. Charges against the book were typically along the lines of claiming that it “promoted witchcraft and supernatural elements.” Parents also claimed that the wild things in the book gave children nightmares, but given its enduring popularity, it can’t have frightened too many children too badly.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum


Here’s one that seems to surprise everyone. In 1928, L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was banned by many public libraries on the grounds that it “depicted women in strong leadership roles” which critics of the time considered “ungodly.” Throughout the 1950’s and 60’s this argument remained commonly, typically promoted by Christian fundamentalist groups and conservative educators. One group argued that it was “theologically impossible for good witches to exist.” Funny, because last I checked, it was scientifically impossible for any witches to exist. Thankfully, our world today has changed and strong female role models are encouraged and supported.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein


Dr. Seuss wasn’t the only author to be accused to criminalizing the foresting industry. Another beloved author, Shel Silverstein, was accused of exactly the same thing after his iconic picture book The Giving Tree was published. While The Lorax did exactly that, I don’t think Silverstein had that aim in mind when he wrote the book, considering only one tree is ever cut down and the tree literally consents to it. It has also been accused of being “sexist.” All charges aside, though, it remains one of the best-loved children’s books to this day.

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