Seattle Picks: Banned and Challenged Books
Annotation:Alighieri’s vision of Hell’s nine circles was challenged in the Tukwila, WA School District due to its Christian message and a reference to the prophet Muhammad in Hell.
Annotation:This award-winning coming-of-age story set in New Mexico during the 1940s was banned in 2009 by the superintendent of schools in Newman, CA after complaints of anti-Catholicism and profanity.
Annotation:The author’s autobiographical novel dealing with racism, incest and rape has been challenged nearly every year since 1987 for containing profanity and pornographic language.
Annotation:This graphic novel memoir was temporarily removed after a challenge by a patron at the Marshall Public Library in Missouri in 2006 who argued that collecting such materials would lead to the library attracting the same clientele as “the porn shop down at the junction.”
Annotation:This story of illegal aliens living in California caused a furor in Santa Rosa, CA, when a parent objected to its inclusion on a school reading list, saying the book “promotes hatred and is extremely sexually explicit.”
Annotation:Scenes of torture and mutilation in this retelling of the epic poem Beowulf caused the book’s restricted status in the Peninsula, WA School District in 2009.
Annotation:A Pen/Faulkner award winner, this story of racial unrest following a post-war murder was restricted in the Peninsula, WA School District and banned from a Boerne, Texas school for “graphic violence, racial bigotry and honeymoon sex.”
Annotation:Heller’s outspoken and sometimes foul-mouthed perspective on the lunacy of war caused a 1979 challenge to this book in Snoqualmie, WA.
Annotation:This popular novel about friendship and loyalty set against Afghanistan’s troubled and violent recent past was challenged in 2009 in at least four school districts in North Carolina and Florida because of violence, rape and offensive language.
Annotation:This 1932 dystopian classic has weathered repeated assaults against its alleged negativity and the incorporation of drugs, sexuality and suicide as part of a plot against social freedom.
Annotation:This book is most often challenged on the basis of its antiwar message and unusual take on religion. It was restricted in the Peninsula, WA School District.
Annotation:The Brevard County Libraries in Florida pulled copies of this book and the next two sequels from its libraries in spring 2012 because of “controversial content.” The decision was reversed 19 days later in response to public demand.
Annotation:This small, powerful novel has been called "blasphemous" and "evil" for its depiction of the creator as both good and malevolent and for condemning Christianity for losing sight of true godliness. It was challenged every year 2004 – 2009.
Annotation:Picoult’s book about a girl who exists only to supply her leukemic sister with bone marrow appears as one of the top ten challenged books of 2009 because of sexual explicitness, homosexuality, suicide, violence, religious viewpoint, offensive language and drug use.
Annotation:A perennial classic dealing with issues of identity and alienation, this book has been repeatedly challenged since its publication in 1951, for vulgar language, questions about sexuality and teen angst.
Annotation:This short book about two students’ experiences during China’s Cultural Revolution includes sexually explicit scenes that caused its restriction in the Federal Way, WA school district in 2004.
Annotation:In 2008, a parent of a student in Olathe, Kansas called this tragic tale of two ranch hands on the lam a “worthless, profanity-riddled book” which is “derogatory towards African Americans, women and the developmentally disabled.” Restricted in the Lake Washington, WA School District.
Annotation:In 1970 a teacher was dismissed for assigning this collection of short stories to her 11th grade English class. The book is still controversial because it contains scenes of euthanasia and “free sex.”
Annotation:A poignant and tragic view of slavery, this novel was challenged in an Oakland, CA high school honors class (1984) due to its “troubling ideas about race relations, man’s relationship to God, African history and human sexuality.”
Annotation:Wright’s autobiography, beginning shortly after the end of slavery and running through the Jim Crow era, contains sex scenes that raised objections at Howell High School in Michigan in 2007 and 2008.