The American Library Association tracks requests to ban books. Sure, I think we can all agree that the Kama Sutra would be inappropriate for a grade-school library even though it could be considered a picture book. But what if your local public library removed all copies of Brave New World, The Color Purple, Twilight, the Bible, and the Harry Potter Series?


The LA Times reported that in 2017 the Accomack County school district in Virginia considered removing copies of To Kill A Mockingbird and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from their libraries because one parent objected to the use of the N-word in these books. Has this parent been in a school lately? Or listened to rap music? The casual use of the N-word among blacks makes me wonder–who is offended?

Just for the record, I am offended by the word. But then, I was alive when the word was used as an insult and not as a greeting or term of endearment. In the historical stories above, the characters who use the N-word are portrayed as severely uneducated or hateful, so why not use these stories to teach children about why we shouldn’t use it now? Shall we let political correctness or the opinion of one person dictate which classics the rest of us should be allowed to read?

Shall ladies return to wearing corsets and covering our ankles if a small segment of society decided to return to the good old Victorian era dictates of decency? Why not let the tail wag the dog and surrender to every segment of society’s whims and sensibilities?

I am speaking up because even though a book might offend me to the core, I don’t expect the world to kneel to my feelings. I’m a grown up. I can survive being offended. I’m likely to grumble about things from time to time, but I don’t force my will on others or throw a tantrum when the world doesn’t comply with my demands.

My favorite book has elements of the supernatural, erotic poetry, war, natural disasters, political intrigue, romance, adventure, and more. But it’s banned or heavily restricted in these countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, China (People’s Republic), Comoros, Djibouti, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Maldives, Mauritania, Morocco, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Yemen. Apparently, the Bible threatens the culture or governments of these countries. I can’t recall extremist Christian-led riots, bombings, or other acts of terrorism endangering any governments, but hey, they run their countries their way. Making the Bible forbidden is their loss.

In America, we enjoy the freedom to read whatever we want. If we don’t like a book, we don’t burn it or ban it. We don’t threaten the author and publisher. We just don’t buy it. We use the power of the free market to support the books we enjoy and treasure. We can, of course, post negative reviews or ignore books that offend us. We allow individuals to decide for themselves.

Judge me if you will, but I firmly believe public and private schools need to consider the appropriateness of books in their libraries based on the age of their students. In a time when student suicides are rising, is it smart to offer books that glamorize suicide instead of offering books on how to cope with depression, stress, and trauma? Let’s expand their imagination and breadth of knowledge while they are young without introducing self-destructive ideas. I lost a friend to suicide in fourth grade. We become that with which we fill our minds.


To celebrate Banned Books Week, I encourage you to look through the list of the top banned or challenged books from 2000 to 2009. The list was compiled by the American Library Association. How many of these books have you read?

What’s your rebel reader score?

1 to 25 books – Streak of rebellion reader

26 to 50 books – Proud rebel reader

51 to 75 books – Rockstar rebel reader

76 to 100 – full-fledged freedom fighter rebel reader

The Top 100 Banned Books:

  1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
  2. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
  4. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
  5. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
  6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
  7. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
  8. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
  9. ttyl; ttfn; l8r g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
  10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
  11. Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
  12. It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
  13. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
  14. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
  15. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
  16. Forever, by Judy Blume
  17. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
  18. Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
  19. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
  20. King and King, by Linda de Haan
  21. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
  22. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
  23. The Giver, by Lois Lowry
  24. In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
  25. Killing Mr. Griffen, by Lois Duncan
  26. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
  27. My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier
  28. Bridge To Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
  29. The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney
  30. We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier
  31. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
  32. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
  33. Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
  34. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
  35. Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison
  36. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
  37. It’s So Amazing, by Robie Harris
  38. Arming America, by Michael Bellasiles
  39. Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane
  40. Life is Funny, by E.R. Frank
  41. Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
  42. The Fighting Ground, by Avi
  43. Blubber, by Judy Blume
  44. Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher
  45. Crazy Lady, by Jane Leslie Conly
  46. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
  47. The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby: The First Graphic Novel by George Beard and Harold Hutchins, the creators of Captain Underpants, by Dav Pilkey
  48. Rainbow Boys, by Alex Sanchez
  49. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
  50. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
  51. Daughters of Eve, by Lois Duncan
  52. The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson
  53. You Hear Me?, by Betsy Franco
  54. The Facts Speak for Themselves, by Brock Cole
  55. Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Green
  56. When Dad Killed Mom, by Julius Lester
  57. Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause
  58. Fat Kid Rules the World, by K.L. Going
  59. Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes
  60. Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
  61. Draw Me A Star, by Eric Carle
  62. The Stupids (series), by Harry Allard
  63. The Terrorist, by Caroline B. Cooney
  64. Mick Harte Was Here, by Barbara Park
  65. The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
  66. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor
  67. A Time to Kill, by John Grisham
  68. Always Running, by Luis Rodriguez
  69. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
  70. Harris and Me, by Gary Paulsen
  71. Junie B. Jones (series), by Barbara Park
  72. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
  73. What’s Happening to My Body Book, by Lynda Madaras
  74. The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
  75. Anastasia (series), by Lois Lowry
  76. A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
  77. Crazy: A Novel, by Benjamin Lebert
  78. The Joy of Gay Sex, by Dr. Charles Silverstein
  79. The Upstairs Room, by Johanna Reiss
  80. A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck
  81. Black Boy, by Richard Wright
  82. Deal With It!, by Esther Drill
  83. Detour for Emmy, by Marilyn Reynolds
  84. So Far From the Bamboo Grove, by Yoko Watkins
  85. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, by Chris Crutcher
  86. Cut, by Patricia McCormick
  87. Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume
  88. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
  89. Friday Night Lights, by H.G. Bissenger
  90. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle
  91. Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George
  92. The Boy Who Lost His Face, by Louis Sachar
  93. Bumps in the Night, by Harry Allard
  94. Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine
  95. Shade’s Children, by Garth Nix
  96. Grendel, by John Gardner
  97. The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende
  98. I Saw Esau, by Iona Opte
  99. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
  100. America: A Novel, by E.R. Frank

Now imagine your life without access to any of these books because someone was offended and didn’t think you should be allowed to read them.