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Read Em and Weep! 12 Banned Books We Still Love

Be a rebel! Go to the library!

Kids these days: sexting, eating alcohol-soaked candies, reading picture books — wait, what?! It’s true: in some school districts, a copy of Harry Potter or A Light in the Attic is as forbidden as Pokemon cards, “I heart boobies” bracelets … even pogs. Most of these classic children’s books are brought under fire for questionable themes or content that promote bad-kid behaviors such as rebellion, witchcraft, or a general disdain for parents.

We dig the First Amendment, though, and we say: let the kids read. Where would we be in our adolescence without Judy Blume’s characters to tell us we weren’t all crazy? Would reading time be the same without Shel Silverstein’s hilarious poems to giggle at? Books like these may be the best way to explain bigger issues that leave most parents at a loss for words, so pull up a chair, stick it to the man, and grab one of these 12 great reads for your little rebel-in-training. — Jillian Capewell


  • And Tango Makes Three 1 of 12
    And Tango Makes Three
    You know it's a rough world when adorable zoo animals can't even catch a break. This 2005 picture book written by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson tells the true story of two male Chinstrap penguins who became a couple and were given an egg to raise together. Although this book won several awards, it's also been one of the most hotly contested picture books, mostly for painting homosexuality in a kid-friendly, (gasp!) normal light.
    Get it from Blogging Censorship
  • In the Night Kitchen 2 of 12
    In the Night Kitchen
    Maurice Sendak is a beloved children's book author known for Where the Wild Things Are — but not all of his works have met unanimous approval. In the Night Kitchen takes a slightly trippy journey through a young boy's dream, where he visits a bizarre kitchen and helps to bake a cake. We forgot to mention that he visits the bakery totally nude, which ruffled conservative parents' and school librarians' feathers when they called for its banning. But really, is reading this book any different than sharing a house with a toddler?
    Get it from Amazon
  • Harriet the Spy 3 of 12
    Harriet the Spy
    If you carried around a notebook and a magnifying glass for weeks after finishing Harriet the Spy, you weren't alone. Written in 1964 by Louise Fitzhugh, this book won several awards and quickly become a young adult classic thanks to Harriet's spunky, nosy attitude — even after she became unpopular when classmates found her scathing critiques of them in her spy notebook. The girl was snark before snark was invented, and schools did not approve: many banned it quickly after publication, purportedly because the book taught kids to lie, spy, and curse.
    Get it from Amazon
  • Bridge to Terabithia 4 of 12
    Bridge to Terabithia
    This story, written by Katherine Paterson in 1977, quickly became a classic by drawing readers in with its tale of two lonely children who create a fantasy forest kingdom in a patch of woods near a river. The same elements that made the story magical for us as kids made it a sticking point for parents, who believed that Terabithia's world reeked of New Age religion and witchcraft. We side with the ALA, who gave this book the Newbery medal the year after it was published.
    Get it from Amazon
  • Harry Potter 5 of 12
    Harry Potter
    Arguably the most iconic series from the last decade of children's literature, J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books were often criticized by schools and parents for promoting witchcraft and sorcery. No word on if the readers of the over 400 million copies sold have started to actually brew potions and fly on broomsticks — but we can say with certainty they're all patiently waiting for their acceptance letters to Hogwarts.
    Get it from Amazon
  • The Hunger Games 6 of 12
    The Hunger Games
    The Hunger Games have taken the place of Harry Potter and Twilight as one of the most gripping (and bestselling) YA series out there today. It was included in our top 100 children's books list for its compelling tale about a dystopian society that sends children from its various districts to a televised fight to the death. Of course, the very elements that make the story compelling are the ones raising parents' eyebrows: it's been named one of the most contested books of 2010 for being sexually explicit, violent, and inappropriate for its targeted age group.
    Get it from Amazon
  • Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret 7 of 12
    Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret
    This perennial pre-teen favorite written in 1970 by Judy Blume centers on a sixth-grade girl searching for faith while grappling with her changing body and feelings. Because of the book's honest approach to issues like religion and puberty, this title is just as popular on parent and school blacklists as it is with tweens and teens. It clocked in at #60 on the ALA's 100 Most Banned Books from 1990-1999, but we're betting that girls will be reading — and chanting, "I must! I must! I must increase my bust!" — for decades to come.
    Get it from Amazon
  • The Diary of a Young Girl 8 of 12
    The Diary of a Young Girl
    Anne Frank's chronicle of the months her family spent hiding out in WWII Amsterdam is one of the most moving, unadorned stories to come from the aftermath of the Holocaust. The Diary of a Young Girl was a worldwide success, printed in over 67 languages and acclaimed for Anne's precocious young voice amid the tragedy that surrounded her. However, it came under fire from a Virginia school board after complaints about its sexual content and homosexual themes.
    Get it from Amazon
  • The Lorax 9 of 12
    The Lorax
    Remember the friendly Lorax, Dr. Seuss' cartoon environmentalist who kept asking the evil Once-ler to stop cutting down his trees and polluting the land? Dr. Seuss has a long history of making complicated topics easy enough for young readers to grasp, but one California school district thought this title was a little too clear-cut: they axed the book for negatively portraying the logging industry. Hey, it's an inconvenient truth, but that doesn't mean the book deserves to be kicked off kids' reading lists.
    Photo credit: Amazon
  • A Light in the Attic 10 of 12
    A Light in the Attic
    This whimsical, freewheeling collection of kids poetry written by Shel Silverstein in 1964 was a little too much of a loose cannon for parents. It was banned for inappropriate content and encouraging kids to misbehave — for example, he offers smashing dishes as a way to effectively get out of doing them.
    Get it from Amazon
  • Little Red Riding Hood 11 of 12
    Little Red Riding Hood
    Even fairy tales that have survived generations of retelling aren't safe from the discerning eyes of critical parents. This classic story was in the hot seat when someone pointed out the wine Little Red slips in her basket for Granny doesn't promote the right ideas about alcohol. We like to think we take a more European approach to the matter: let the kid carry it so Gran can have a glass — if we recently got cut out of a wolf's stomach, we'd need one, too.
    Get it from Amazon
  • Sylvester and the Magic Pebble 12 of 12
    Sylvester and the Magic Pebble
    The ultimate lesson in being careful with our wishes: the donkey Sylvester finds a magic wishing pebble and quickly turns himself into a rock as a defense mechanism when he encounters a lion and is unable to wish himself back. Although every character in the story is an animal, the book caused an uproar in police associations for depicting the uniformed men as pigs (No comment from the other neighbors who were also pigs in the story).
    Get it from Amazon

Photo credit: stock.xchng

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