13 Banned Books and Why They Were Banned

September 23, 2017
Julie Jarema
Riveted Editorial Board

Banned Books Week is here! It’s an annual celebration of the freedom to read! Hundreds of books are removed or challenged in libraries and schools in the U.S. each year, which is pretty unbelievable because 1. the First Amendment of the Constitution protects our right to free speech and freedom of the press, and 2. many of these books have shaped and impacted American life. Classics and contemporary books have been challenged over the years for having “difficult” themes or expressing unpopular views. Find out more about Banned Books Week at and The American Library Association’s Banned Books Week page, and visit Simon & Schuster’s Banned Books week site for more info and resources.

Here is a list of thirteen frequently banned books and the reasons why they’ve been banned from the shelves of certain schools and libraries. Jump on the banned wagon and challenge yourself instead of the books!

Banned Books and Why They Were Banned

1. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. by Judy Blume

Complaint: It’s “sexually offensive and amoral” and talks about periods

Riveted - Banned Books Are You There God


2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Complaint: It shouldn’t be on the assigned reading list at an Ohio high school because it deals with drugs, alcohol, sex, homosexuality, and abuse

Riveted - Banned Perks


3. My Princess Boy: A Mom’s Story About a Young Boy Who Loves to Dress Up by Cheryl Kilodavis

Complaint: It promotes “perversion” and “the gay lifestyle”

Riveted - Banned My Princess


4. Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan by Jeanette Winter

Complaint: A group of parents in Florida believed the book shouldn’t promote a religion besides Christianity and is too violent for young kids

Riveted - Banned Nasreen


5. Crank by Ellen Hopkins

Complaint: It includes “drugs, offensive language and sexually explicit” content since it’s about a teenage crystal meth addict

Riveted - Banned Crank

6. Alice series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Complaint: The books feature “very questionable pages” according to the principal at a Missouri middle school

Riveted - Banned Alice

7. Totally Joe by James Howe

Complaint: Utah parents found the book objectionable because the 13-year-old protagonist deals with the challenges of being a gay teen.

8. Shooting Star by Fredrick McKissack, Jr.

Complaint: A parent of a middle school student was concerned about several swear words

Riveted - Banned Shooting Star


9. One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies by Sonya Sones

Complaint: A Wisconsin middle school banned cause it wasn’t age appropriate, though it has won several awards and was named a 2005 Best Book for Young Adults by the American Library Association

Riveted - Banned One of Those Hideous


10. Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Complaint: Parents of a high school student in Kentucky complained about the language and topics in the books including sex, child abuse, suicide, and drug abuse. They also did not believe that the books were intellectually challenging enough. The titles are on a list made by the Young Adult Library Services Association for “reluctant readers.”

Riveted - Banned Unwind


11. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

Complaint: Explicit references to drugs and sex, making it controversial since it was first published

Riveted - Banned Go Ask Alice


12. America by E.R. Frank

Complaint: Sexual content and profanity. (It’s also received several awards and was a Garden State Teen Book Award nominee.)

Riveted - Banned America


13. Romiette and Julio by Sharon M. Draper

Complaint: Parents in Virginia deemed it inappropriate for fifth graders with its sexual innuendo and fictional online chat room. So the book was instead shifted to the sixth grade second semester curriculum.

Riveted - Banned Romiette and Julio



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