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Seattle Picks: Banned and Challenged Books

Dante's Inferno
Dante's Inferno By Dante Alighieri (Book - 2004 ) 851.1 D235i 2004 Available in some locations Holds: 1 on 4 copies

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.

Bless Me, Ultima
Bless Me, Ultima By Anaya, Rudolfo A. (Book - 1994 ) YA ANAYA Available in some locations Holds: 1 on 15 copies

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.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings By Angelou, Maya (Book - 2002 ) B An438A 2002 Available in some locations Holds: 12 on 45 copies

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.

Fun Home
Fun Home A Family Tragicomic By Bechdel, Alison (Book - 2006 ) 741.5973 B3872F 2006 All copies in use Availability details Holds: 26 on 16 copies

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.”

The Tortilla Curtain
The Tortilla Curtain By Boyle, T. Coraghessan (Book - 1996 ) FIC BOYLE 1996 Available in some locations Holds: 1 on 9 copies

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.”

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress By Dai, Sijie (Book - 2001 ) FIC DAI Available in some locations

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.

Grendel By Gardner, John (Book - 1989 ) FIC GARDNER 1989 Available in some locations Holds: 1 on 5 copies

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.

Snow Falling on Cedars
Snow Falling on Cedars By Guterson, David (Book - 1995 ) FIC GUTERSO Available in some locations Holds: 5 on 19 copies

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.”

Catch-22 By Heller, Joseph (Book - 2011 ) FIC HELLER 2011 Available in some locations Holds: 8 on 21 copies

Annotation:Heller’s outspoken and sometimes foul-mouthed perspective on the lunacy of war caused a 1979 challenge to this book in Snoqualmie, WA.

The Kite Runner
The Kite Runner By Hosseini, Khaled (Book - 2003 ) FIC HOSSEIN Available in some locations Holds: 6 on 17 copies

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.

Brave New World
Brave New World By Huxley, Aldous (Book - 2006 ) FIC HUXLEY 2006 Available in some locations Holds: 6 on 24 copies

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.

A Prayer for Owen Meany
A Prayer for Owen Meany A Novel By Irving, John (Book - 2009 ) FIC IRVING 2009 Available in some locations

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.

Fifty Shades of Grey
Fifty Shades of Grey By James, E. L. (Book - 2012 ) FIC JAMES 2012 All copies in use Availability details Holds: 35 on 30 copies

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.

The Bluest Eye
The Bluest Eye A Novel By Morrison, Toni (Book - 2007 ) FIC MORRISO 2007 All copies in use Availability details Holds: 3 on 9 copies

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.

My Sister's Keeper
My Sister's Keeper A Novel By Picoult, Jodi (Book - 2004 ) FIC PICOULT All copies in use Availability details Holds: 6 on 4 copies

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.

The Catcher in the Rye
The Catcher in the Rye By Salinger, J. D. (Book - 1991 ) YA SALINGE Available in some locations Holds: 6 on 53 copies

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.

Of Mice and Men
Of Mice and Men By Steinbeck, John (Book - 1994 ) FIC STEINBE Available in some locations Holds: 3 on 30 copies

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.

Welcome to the Monkey House
Welcome to the Monkey House A Collection of Short Works By Vonnegut, Kurt (Book - 2014 ) FIC VONNEGU 2014 Available in some locations Holds: 2 on 6 copies

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.”

The Color Purple
The Color Purple By Walker, Alice (Book - 1982 ) FIC WALKER 1982 Available in some locations

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.”

Black Boy
Black Boy (American Hunger) : A Record of Childhood and Youth By Wright, Richard (Book - 2005 ) B W9355W 2005 Available in some locations

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.

Annotation:For more information about banned and challenged books: ALA List of Banned Books

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“If there’s a possibility that something might be controversial, then why not eliminate it?” A Wild Rose, WI School District administrator


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