Let’s celebrate the freedom to read! It may come as a surprise that many of your favorite childhood books, from authors such as Dr. Seuss and Maurice Sendak, have been deemed unfit for reading in the US. In fact, each year hundreds of books are challenged or removed from schools and libraries.
Banned books have existed for centuries, but here is a list of five familiar children’s books you probably didn’t know were banned.
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
The Giving Tree was banned from a public library in Colorado in 1988 because it was interpreted as being sexist. Some readers believe that the young boy continually takes from the female tree, without ever giving anything in return. As the boy grows up, he always comes back to the tree when he needs something, taking until the tree has nothing left to give him.
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
Dr. Seuss’ environmental kid’s book was banned in 1989 in a California school because it was believed to portray logging in a poor light and would turn children against the foresting industry. Members of the logging community were so upset by Dr. Seuss’ book that they sponsored the publication of a book called The Truax in an attempt to show children the need for foresting. The Lorax has also been criticized for its excessive portrayal of consumerism. The Once-ler represents a greedy America who wants the latest and greatest items, regardless of the consequences.
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
Harriet the Spy was challenged in 1983 at a school board meeting in Xenia, Ohio, where some argued the book encouraged children to disrespect their parents by lying, talking back, cursing, and spying on others. The female character of Harriet was also believed to be a bad influence on children because of her abrasiveness and improper behavior.
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Maurice Sendak’s picture book faced many opponents immediately after its publication in 1963. Readers believed Where the Wild Things Are was psychologically damaging and traumatizing to young children due to Max’s inability to control his emotions and his punishment of being sent to bed without dinner. Psychologists called it “too dark”, and the book was banned largely in the south. It has also been challenged several times for its images of witchcraft and supernatural elements.
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
James and the Giant Peach has been banned and challenged several times since its publication, namely, for being too scary for its targeted age group. The death of the aunts has been targeted as an exceptionally scary part of the story. It is also believed to promote poor behavior, such as disobedience and, as some references note, communism.