Popular Children’s Books That Have Been Banned in Schools

Your jaw may drop when you discover what children’s books from your adolescence have been previously banned in US school systems.

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Image of a library with front Covers of Anne Frank and A Wrinkle in Time

Book banning has been a popular trend in many American public schools. Every school district has its policies on Book Bans, which means every school has its own set of banned books (if any). Though you may be thinking, surely I haven’t read a banned book before…just wait. In this article, we will look at previously banned children’s books you might have already read. Some of these titles are considered the best of the best in an adolescent sense; a few even were awarded prestigious literary awards. Yet, at one point in time, they were considered too inappropriate for a younger audience. Whether you agree or disagree, these books have been involved in one of the biggest debates of book history. How many of these books have you read before?

The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman

In 2008, the popular children’s book The Golden Compass was removed from dozens of schools in Ontario, Canada, due to allegations of anti-religious themes. After these allegations, the book was questioned by countless schools in the states, some of which removed the book from their shelves due to the anti-religious standpoints. In Kentucky, Conkwright Middle School agreed to remove the book because the main character (a young girl) drinks wine and eats poppy, therefore breaking the law of underage drinking.

Front cover of The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman, showing a chid on the back of a running polar bear.

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne and Otto Frank

The story of Anne Frank is read across school systems as an introduction to World War two and its detrimental history. From her point of view, the reader is immersed in this horrific time but from the perceptive of a young girl and her two years in hiding from the Nazi party. Anne Frank’s story is used in a good handful of school curriculums because of her school-aged child’s point of view. Though this period is devastating, it is a severely essential part of human history. For learning purposes, her diary is in most school curriculums. However, in some U.S. school systems, various versions of Anne Frank’s diary have received backlash on their accessibility to school children. 

Front cover of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne and Otto Frank, showing Anne Frank in four separate photos.

From 2010 to 2012, the original book, The Diary of a Young Girl, was challenged a few times in an attempt to be removed from some school systems in states such as Virginia and Georgia. In early 2023, a group of parents requested to remove the graphic novel version of Anne Frank at a school in Florida. The request was passed, and the book was immediately removed from the shelves. A few months later, a teacher in Texas was fired after reading the same novel to their eighth-grade class.

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

That’s right. The beloved, tree-hugging Lorax was under heat as too inappropriate for children. In 1989, a school in California was starting to question The Lorax’s point of view. Though the book is meant to teach children the pure importance and thankfulness we humans should have for the environment, parents were concerned their children would begin to question the needs of large corporations.

Front Cover of The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, showing an orange being sitting on a cut off tree.

Then, in 2010, the book was banned again in Barrow County, Georgia, for similar reasons. Following up on this official ban, all public schools in Arizona were forced to ban The Lorax in 2012. The governor at the time believed the book was ruining children’s perspectives on capitalism. Even so, this book is still one of Dr. Suess’s most popular stories. The book was made into a popular movie franchise, and kids all across the globe still look up to the orange creature that speaks for the trees. 

Drama by Raina Telgemeier

In Raina Telgemeier’s extraordinary novel, Drama, a middle schooler named Callie dives into her school drama club as a set designer. While falling in love with the dramatic arts, Callie befriends many new faces and battles the drama on stage and behind closed curtains. Though this book was a fan favorite from Telgemeir fans, this graphic novel was unfortunately challenged by many school systems due to its inclusion of LGBTQ+ characters.

Front cover of Drama by Raina Telgemeier, showing a girl walking in between two boys with a heart over her head.

The book has no violence, hate crimes, slurs, or sexual references in the storyline. It was solely due to some of the character’s sexual preferences. Over four years, the book was removed multiple times in multiple Texas school districts. Shockingly, Drama was number three on ALA’s (American Library Association’s) ten most challenged books in 2017. It was also included on the 2016 list for “offensive political viewpoint” and the 2014 list for being “sexually explicit.”

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

A Wrinkle in Time is a beloved children’s novel that follows the adventure through space and time itself. Highschool aged Meg Murry is on the hunt to find her long lost father, along with her brother Charles and new friend Calvin. The 1962 published novel won the 1963 Newbery Medal for its popularity, and it was a book-worm fan favorite for decades to come. Until, of course, it was challenged for its combination of religion and science.

Front cover of A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, showing three children floating at the top and a star lit sky.

The book faced more challenges of removal than being banned. In 1985, an elementary school in Florida faced angry parents who opposed the book’s availability to their school children. The parents did not approve of the book’s mesh of religion and magic and did anything they could to have it removed from school property. The Principal, however, refused. There were countless stories similar to this school’s experience. The book was at spot #23 on the ALA’s 100 most frequently challenged books from 1990-1999 and #90 on the ALA’s list from 2000-2009.

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