14 books which were banned in colleges

Each traditional books and modern novels have been banned in colleges for a wide range of causes.

A bookshelf with caution tape marking Banned Books Week

A library show marking Banned Books Week.

Carol Rosenberg/Miami Herald/Tribune Information Service through Getty Photographs

Causes for banning books vary from “profanity” and plotlines “centered round damaging exercise” to “X-rated” content material and “Satanic” themes.

Whereas some books have been reinstated by faculty districts after pushback from college students and college, others stay blacklisted.

The American Library Affiliation’s Workplace for Mental Freedom tracks the variety of complaints that books obtain in colleges, tallying up probably the most incessantly challenged books since 1990, in addition to traditional books that had been challenged and banned all through the twentieth century into immediately. 

Listed below are 11 books which were banned in colleges — and what made them so controversial.

The “Harry Potter” sequence by J.Ok. Rowling has been banned a number of occasions.

People buy copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Followers choose up their new copies of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” in 2007.

Joe Raedle/Getty Photographs

A faculty pastor in Nashville, Tennessee, eliminated “Harry Potter” books from the library of St. Edward Faculty earlier than faculty began in September, in line with WTVF. He wrote in an electronic mail to folks that “The curses and spells used within the books are precise curses and spells; which when learn by a human being threat conjuring evil spirits into the presence of the particular person studying the textual content.”

It isn’t the primary time books from the sequence have been banned. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” made the checklist of probably the most challenged books within the Nineteen Nineties though the primary ebook was solely printed within the US in 1999. “Harry Potter” books had been additionally probably the most challenged books within the following decade, with complaints that they had been “anti-family,” violent, and Satanic. 


“To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee has been banned resulting from its use of the N-word and different racial epithets, in addition to its “grownup themes.”

Copies of "To Kill A Mockingbird" displayed on shelves

Copies of “To Kill A Mockingbird.”

Tim Boyle/Getty Photographs

“To Kill A Mockingbird” has been challenged, faraway from curricula, and banned in colleges throughout the US resulting from its use of the N-word and different racial epithets that promote “racial hatred, racial division, [and] racial separation” in addition to “grownup themes” as Brentwood Center Faculty in Tennessee put it in 2006. 

The ebook was additionally dropped from the curriculum at Duluth Public Colleges in Minnesota in 2018, though it was nonetheless accessible for college kids to take a look at of libraries. Officers stated the transfer got here following complaints.

Michael Cary, director of curriculum and instruction at Duluth Public Colleges, instructed the Duluth Information Tribune on the time that, “We felt that we may nonetheless educate the identical requirements and expectations via different novels that did not require college students to really feel humiliated or marginalized by means of racial slurs.”

It was additionally one of many 10 most challenged books in colleges in 2017. 

Like “To Kill A Mockingbird,” Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” has been controversial in colleges for its language and depiction of African People.

Copies of "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn."

“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”

Ted S. Warren/AP

Bans on the ebook date again to 1 12 months after it was printed, when it was known as “trash and appropriate just for the slums” in 1885. 

“Of Mice and Males” by John Steinbeck has been banned resulting from its use of profanity.

A copy of "Of Mice and Men"

“Of Mice and Males.”

Katherine Frey/The Washington Publish through Getty Photographs

“Of Mice and Males” was banned from use in school rooms at Skyline Excessive Faculty in Scottsboro, Alabama, in 1983 and in George County, Mississippi, colleges in 2002 due to the ebook’s “profanity.”

“13 Causes Why” by Jay Asher was probably the most challenged ebook in colleges in 2017.

A copy of the book "Thirteen Reasons Why."

“13 Causes Why.”

Ross D. Franklin/AP

“13 Causes Why” was probably the most challenged ebook in colleges in 2017 as a result of its plot revolves round a teen who takes her personal life.

The ebook was printed in 2007 however regained reputation as a result of 2017 Netflix sequence primarily based on it. The graphic content material within the Netflix sequence “13 Causes Why” has additionally raised considerations amongst lecturers.

“The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas was faraway from a Texas faculty district’s libraries in 2017.

Author Angie Thomas signs copies of "The Hate U Give" at a book signing

Creator Angie Thomas indicators copies of “The Hate U Give.”

Rogelio V. Solis/AP

“The Hate U Give” is a couple of Black teenager who witnesses a police officer fatally capturing her pal. Whereas it wasn’t technically banned in Katy, Texas, the college district’s superintendent eliminated it from the district’s libraries whereas it was underneath evaluation after a mother or father complained concerning the ebook’s profanity. Critics stated that eradicating the ebook whereas it was being reviewed was a violation of the district’s evaluation insurance policies.

Creator Angie Thomas tweeted her dismay.

“I am saddened to listen to {that a} faculty district in Texas banned #TheHateUGive, however I am additionally empowered — you are mainly telling the youngsters of the Backyard Heights of the world that their tales should not be instructed. Nicely, I will inform them even louder. Thanks for igniting the fireplace,” she wrote.

Fifteen-year-old pupil Ny’Shira Lundy collected 4,000 signatures in help of the ebook. The district put the books again on library cabinets, however college students will need to have permission from a mother or father to test it out.

Complaints from the Fraternal Order of Police in Charleston County, South Carolina, additionally put the ebook underneath evaluation at Wando Excessive Faculty resulting from what the group known as its “indoctrination of mistrust of police.”

“The Catcher within the Rye” by J.D. Salinger has been faraway from faculty studying lists, citing a plot that’s “centered round damaging exercise.”

"The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger

“The Catcher within the Rye.”

Amy Sancetta/AP

“The Catcher within the Rye” has been challenged and faraway from faculty studying lists many occasions since its publication in 1951 resulting from considerations of profanity, obscenity, and the truth that some felt the plot is “centered round damaging exercise.” 

The earliest occasion of the ebook being banned was 1960, when a instructor in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was fired for assigning the ebook to an eleventh grade English class. The instructor was employed again after an attraction, however the ebook remained banned.

The ebook’s place on Missoula, Montana, highschool’s checklist was challenged in 2009, nevertheless it was allowed to remain on the curriculum.

“The Shade Purple” by Alice Walker has been deemed “smut” and “X-rated” by a number of faculty districts.

Alice Walker with a copy of her book "The Color Purple"

Creator Alice Walker and Robert Allen have a look at a replica of “The Shade Purple” at a screening of the movie adaptation of the ebook in 1986.

Laura Sikes/AP

Dad and mom have known as “The Shade Purple” “smut” and “X-rated” and cited considerations about its “troubling concepts about race relations, man’s relationship to God, African historical past, and human sexuality.” It was banned in Souderton, Pennsylvania, Space Faculty District in 1992 and faraway from faculty libraries in Fairfax County and Newport Information, Virginia.

A 1987 ban in opposition to “Animal Farm” by George Orwell was overturned.

"Animal Farm" by George Orwell

“Animal Farm.”


4 center colleges in Bay County and three excessive colleges in Panama Metropolis, Florida, banned “Animal Farm” in 1987, however the Bay County faculty board overturned the ban after 44 mother and father filed a swimsuit with the district. 

“Wanting For Alaska” by John Inexperienced was probably the most challenged ebook of 2015 for “offensive language” and “sexually specific content material.”

john green looking for alaska

John Inexperienced reads a passage from “Searching for Alaska” in a vlog.


Inexperienced made a video on the YouTube channel he shares together with his brother Hank responding to the bans.

“Youngsters are critically engaged and considerate readers,” he stated. “They don’t learn ‘Searching for Alaska’ and assume ‘I ought to go have some aggressively unerotic oral intercourse.’ Additionally they do not learn ‘The Outsiders’ and assume ‘I ought to be a part of a gang’ or learn ‘Divergent’ and assume ‘I ought to leap onto transferring trains.’ As far as I can inform, that sort of slender prescriptive studying appears solely to occur contained in the places of work of college superintendents.”

“Maus,” a graphic novel by creator Artwork Spiegelman concerning the Holocaust, was banned by a Tennessee faculty board that known as the graphic nature of the ebook “fully pointless.”

The graphic novel "Maus" by Art Spiegelman.

“Maus” by Artwork Spiegelman.

Maro Siranosians/AFP/Getty Photographs

In 2022, the McMinn County Board of Schooling in Tennessee elected to ban “Maus” from being included in its curriculum, saying it contained “‘pointless use of profanity and nudity,” Insider’s Charles Davis reported.

In a statement, the college board stated it didn’t intend to “diminish the worth of Maus as an impactful and significant piece of literature, nor can we dispute the significance of educating our youngsters the historic and ethical classes and realities of the Holocaust.” Nevertheless, “We merely don’t imagine that this work is an acceptable textual content for our college students to check,” it stated, citing the ebook’s “pointless use of profanity and nudity and its depiction of violence and suicide.”

The choice prompted a wave of nationwide media protection, with critics decrying the censorship as a blow to free expression and historic literacy — coming simply earlier than Worldwide Holocaust Remembrance Day.

In 2006, “Charlotte’s Internet” by E.B. White was banned in a Kansas faculty district as a result of mother and father argued that “speaking animals are blasphemous and unnatural.”

A student reads "Charlotte's Web."

President Invoice Clinton joins in a studying session of “Charlotte’s Internet” whereas visiting an elementary faculty classroom in 2000.


The ebook options characters comparable to Wilbur, a lonely however pleasant pig, and Charlotte, a spider with a powerful vocabulary.

Along with taking subject with the speaking animals, The Baltimore Solar reported mother and father had been additionally involved that the spider’s demise on the finish of the story was an “inappropriate subject material for a kids’s ebook.” 

“Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe was probably the most challenged ebook of 2022, in line with the American Library Affiliation.

The cover of Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe

“Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe.


At a 2021 board assembly in Fairfax County, Virginia, a mother or father known as the illustrated ebook which chronicles Kobabe’s challenges navigating the world as a nonbinary particular person — “pornography,” NBC Information reported in 2021.

The ebook was pulled from cabinets within the Virginia faculty district, however later reinstated. 

The American Library Affiliation reported that Kobabe’s memoir was challenged 151 occasions in 2022 — greater than another ebook that 12 months.

“It is very arduous to listen to folks say, ‘This ebook just isn’t acceptable to younger folks’ when it is like, I used to be a teen for whom this ebook would have been not solely acceptable, however so, so needed,” Kobabe instructed NBC Information. “There are lots of people who’re questioning their gender, questioning their sexuality and having an actual arduous time discovering trustworthy accounts of any individual else on the identical journey. There are folks for whom that is important and for whom this might perhaps even be lifesaving.”