2016 Oct 7
Literature has always been under attack, from massive book burnings to forced censorships. The freedom to write and publish is a wonderful thing. Yet, book banning has always been a massive problem, with individuals wishing to oppress the written word for various absurd reasons. Thankfully, in the modern developed world, banning books is becoming increasingly difficult. However, over the years, many famous books have been banned in different parts of the world. Let’s examine a few of these below.
- Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank
In the words of a young girl, this book captures the terrorized life of a Jew in hiding during World War II. This book is noticeably now a classic; however it has been challenged many times. It was immediately banned in Lebanon, due to its depiction of Jews – a ban which has not been lifted. Furthermore, the book was challenged within American schools for its sexuality themes and sexual content. Fortunately, many of these schools have since lifted their ban.
- The Kite Runner – Khaled Hossieni
Set in Afghanistan, this is a heartbreaking story of family, love and friendship. However, it has been frequently challenged due to its adult themes and depiction of sexual assault. Hossieni’s novel made the top 10 most challenged books list in 2008, 2012 and 2014. Parent groups in Idaho, North Carolina, and various other regions have petitioned to ban this book. Nevertheless, it has been largely successful across the world, due to its compelling and eye-opening nature.
- Bridge to Terabithia – Katherine Paterson
A beloved book about powerful imagination and friendship, it introduced and examined the themes of death and loss to children. However, it held the number 8 spot on the American Library Association’s 100 most banned books for 1990 – 2000, only gradually decreasing in number. Apparently, many adults believed that the content was too heavy and mature, stating that kids should not be reading about death.
- Deenie – Judy Blume
Of Blume’s many novels, Deenie has received the most backlash and challenge over the years. In this wonderful book, Blume employs her usual honest and open manner of writing to delve into the life of another beloved character. However, the book has been challenged many times due to its references to masturbation and sexuality. No doubt, this explains why Deenie wasn’t spotted in our school libraries among Blume’s many other books.
- Looking for Alaska – John Green
This YA bestseller has been frequently challenged by many parents, claiming it to be unsuitable for the age group it was meant for. Many have banned it due to its ‘sexually explicit content’ and offensive language, labeling it ‘pornographic and disgusting’. However, it went on to become a bestseller. The golden saying applies here: all publicity is good publicity, and these reviews simply drove more people to read the book to see what it was about.
- Harry Potter – J.K. Rowling
This magical series has a long history of backlash from various groups of individuals such as schools and parent groups. Many believe that the books contain too much black magic and sorcery, and are harmful towards religious texts. Several protests and massive book burnings have been held against Harry Potter. Nonetheless, millions of children and adults around the world have an undying love for this series, which has grown into an enormous franchise, despite the frequent bans.
- A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
Easily one of the most popular and noteworthy books, it is a frightening fable about good, evil and the meaning of freedom. However, the book was not received positively by all readers. Many were shocked at the violence and cruelty depicted within the book, leading to it being challenged continuously. History shows that a book seller in Utah was once arrested for selling a copy of this book!
- Lord of the Flies – William Golding
A highly popular book, it is now part of the syllabus in many high schools across the world. However, it has also been challenged by many of these schools, due to its “violence, bad language and profanity, lurid passages about sex, and statements defamatory to minorities, God, women and the disabled”. However, the freedom of literature won this time, and the book is now widely sold all over the world.
- Persepolis – Marjane Satrapi
Persepolis is an autobiographical graphic novel, written about a childhood in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. It has been well received by most Western audiences, due to its funny and heartbreaking tale, and lovable character. However, it has also faced several challenges and was removed from all Chicago schools in 2013, due to its graphic images. It was further included in the American Library Association’s most frequently challenged books in 2014.
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky
A widely popular book, this coming-of-age story is funny, meaningful, heartbreaking and wild. Although loved by the masses and even turned into a popular movie, it has experienced much backlash. The book has been removed from certain high schools around America. The novel’s depiction of sexual abuse, depression and sexuality was disapproved by many parents. Certain schools are yet debating on whether to reintroduce the book.