Our second installment for Banned Books Week takes a look at some of the most challenged, complained about, and banned comic books. What do you think? Do these books deserve to be banned? Do the challenges have any merit? Why or why not?
To learn more about the issues, see the American Library Association’s guide to Banned and Challenged Books.
Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Junior leaves the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white school. Suffering from several medical conditions, Junior is often bullied and relies on inner strength and humor to get by.
Banned or challenged for: profanity, sexual content, anti-Christian, masturbation, “encouraging pornography, racism, religious irreverence, and strong language (including the f- and n-words)”
Always Running by Luis J. Rodriguez
A memoir by poet Luis J. Rodriguez, who spent his teenage years as a gang member in South Central Los Angeles.
Banned or challenged for: depictions of sex, violence, and drug use, “pornographic”
Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
Liza puts aside her feelings for Annie after the disaster at school, but eventually she allows love to triumph over the ignorance of people.
Banned or challenged for: homosexual content; copies of the book were burned in Kansas
The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X with Alex Haley
Published posthumously, this book presents the life of Malcolm X, born Malcolm Little, a civil rights activist who was assassinated in 1965. It tells of his childhood in Michigan, the death of his father and his mother’s mental illness, then of his adulthood in Boston and New York City. There he got involved in organized crime before serving a prison sentence and converting to Sunni Islam. It analyzes why he left the Nation of Islam and his views on Black pride and pan-Africanism.
Banned or challenged for: anti-white, depictions of crime and criminality, promoting violence and racial disharmony
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Sethe, an escaped slave who now lives in post-Civil War Ohio, has borne the unthinkable and works hard at “beating back the past.” She struggles to keep Beloved, an intruder, from gaining possession of her present while throwing off the legacy of her past.
Banned or challenged for: racial content, sexual content, “disturbing and inappropriate” content
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
Ultima, the one heals with herbs and magic, comes to live with Antonio’s family in New Mexico and helps Tony journey through life.
Banned or challenged for: profanity, sexually explicit, anti-Catholic, references to paganism; copies of the book were burned in Colorado
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Despite his overwhelming fear of interacting with people, Christopher, a mathematically-gifted, autistic fifteen-year-old boy, decides to investigate the murder of a neighbor’s dog and uncovers secret information about his mother.
Banned or challenged for: profanity, anti-religious, offensive language,
Geography Club by Brent Hartinger
Four gay high school students form a secret club – the “Geography Club” – and share a desire to keep their sexuality concealed from their classmates.
Banned or challenged for: “obscene or child pornography,” sexual content, promotion of using the internet for porn and sexual encounters
A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines
Tells the story of a young African-American man sentenced to death for a murder he did not commit, and a teacher who tries to impart to him his learning and pride before the execution.
Banned or challenged for: sexual references, profanity
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Narrated through a collection of intimate letters, “Perks of Being a Wallflower” reveals the personal life of a teenage boy, Charlie, and his experiences at high school.
Banned or challenged for: depictions of sex and sexual violence, offensive language, masturbation, homosexuality, “glorification of alcohol use and drugs,” unsuited to age group, bestiality, “obscene or child pornography”
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Set in an Ibo village in Nigeria, the novel recreates pre-Christian tribal life and shows how the coming of the white man led to the breaking up of the old ways.
Banned or challenged for: negative portrayal of colonialism; was reportedly banned in Nigeria and Malaysia