You might be surprised what beloved books been challenged.
It’s Banned Books Week, the American Library Association’s (ALA) annual celebration of the freedom to read without censorship or restriction. Since 1982, the ALA, along with booksellers, teachers, publishers, and readers have come together to highlight books that have been frequently challenged and restricted in classrooms, stores, and libraries across the country.
Ahead of the week’s events, the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom released its annual list of the 10 most frequently challenged books from the previous year, 2016, including the popular graphic novel This One Summer written by Mariko Tamaki ($14; amazon.com), the children’s book I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings ($14; amazon.com), and John Green’s YA book Looking for Alaska ($12; amazon.com).
While new books are challenged and banned every year, some of our all-time favorites have been caught up in controversy, too. See if you’ve read these six popular books that have faced censorship attempts (and see the ALA’s full lists of banned books here).
Harry Potter (Series), by J.K. Rowling
This children’s sensation was the ALA’s most frequently challenged book in 2000 because some parents believed it promoted devil-worshiping and violence. One group in Maine even tried to burn books from the series in 2001.
To buy: $64 for a seven-book boxed set; amazon.com.
Beloved, by Toni Morrison
Morrison’s classic may be required reading for many high school English students, but it often comes under fire for its discussions of bestiality and depictions of violence and slavery.
To buy: $17; amazon.com.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
Angelou has been called one of the most banned authors in the country, and her debut autobiography, in fact, inspired the ALA to found Banned Books Week. It’s still challenged again and again in schools for addressing the rape, molestation, and racism Angelou experienced as a child.
To buy: $17; amazon.com.
Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
Steinbeck’s classic is another that frequently comes under fire in schools for its profanity and use of racial slurs.
To buy: $22; amazon.com.
Forever, by Judy Blume
Many of Blume’s books, including Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, have faced backlash for touching on everything from sex to menstruation. Forever, which portrays two teenagers who lose their virginity, is among her most challenged.
To buy: $13; amazon.com.
The Giver, by Lois Lowry
Lowry’s Newbery Medal-winning dystopian YA novel explores important themes like freedom and memory, but parents and libraries have tried to remove it from bookshelves, believing it to be too dark for young readers.
To buy: $11; amazon.com.