Banned Books Week 2

Welcome to Day 2 of Banned Books Week postings.  Yesterday, we talked about the importance of Banned Books Week.  Today, I'm going to talk about a few banned books that might surprise you.  I was working with a coworker yesterday to add more books to the display, and found myself constantly questioning the titles she added.  Not because I didn't want them on the display*, but because I couldn't understand why that particular title would be banned.

Now, some books are more obvious than others.  One of my personal favorites, Of Mice and Men, was targeted because of profanity, foul language, and violence.  But, what objection could anyone have to classics like Captain Underpants, or James and the Giant Peach?  Apparently, a lot!  So, dear readers, let's continue onward with a list of 4 children's books you might not have known where banned.

(1) Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

Why was it banned? In addition to partial nudity (the egg-shaped Captain Underpants is, as you might guess, only wearing a cape and...well, his underpants), violence (mostly against aliens, robots, and other monsters), and offensive language (lots of references to underwear and other "toilet" humor)

Why you should read it anyway: These are hilarious books that encourage kids to read.  As a kid, I had boys in my class who would never read voluntarily, but when these books came out, there was always a high demand.  The content is harmless, if a bit crude, and how can you hate something that gets kids to read?

(2) James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

Why was it banned?  The book contains references to drugs and alcohol, some profanity, and supposedly encourages children to resist authority and to not respect their parents

Why you should read it anyway: Roald Dahl is an amazing, imaginative writer who encourages children to be brave, bold, adventurous, and creative, and to think for themselves.  To be fair, the adults being rebelled against are pretty awful.  In Dahl's books, the adults with their hearts in the right place are respected and admired.

(3) Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Why was it banned?  This story of a boy who goes to the land of the Wild Things was considered too dark for younger readers, and some adults objected to the supernatural nature of the story

Why you should read it anyway: I love this book!  It's a fun story, the illustrations are great, and it showcases the power of your imagination.  Plus, there's a happy ending.

(4) Anything by Shel Silverstein

Why were they banned?  Censors have accused Silverstein of encouraging children to be disrespectful,  and promoting cannibalism and suicide

Why you should read them anyway: Well, first of all...these books do none of those things.  What they actually do is to encourage children to dream big, and they teach important lessons in various aspects of daily life, such as patience and responsibility.  Plus, they're just a LOT of fun to read out loud!

I hope this selection of titles was enough to peak your interest in banned books this week.  For more titles, stop by your library and check out our banned books display, or visit for more information.


*Banning books from the Banned Books display?  Oh the irony!

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