Over the years, censors have shown an admirable ability to get themselves worked up over the silliest things. Hard to believe, but each of these books has actually been removed from the bookshelves.
1. Harriet the Spy (Louise Fitzhugh)
A genuine classic, and named one of the best 100 best kids’ books ever. But this uplifting story of a resourceful (and neglected) young girl has still regularly been banned from schools and libraries. As late as 1983, a school board in Ohio tried to get it thrown out of classrooms because it “teaches children to lie, spy, back-talk and curse”. Happily, Harriet prevailed.
2. Harry Potter series (J. K. Rowling)
You know those lovely wizard books, where a trio of young heroes repeatedly demonstrates the value of true friendship and good triumphs over evil? Actually, no you don’t. They ‘promote witchcraft, set bad examples and are much too dark in tone’. Thanks for clearing things up for us, Mr. Censor.
3. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
The reason for this important book being removed from the bookshelves? It was ‘too depressing’ Er, really – what did they expect?
4. Captain Underpants (Dav Pilkey)
A few years ago, Captain Underpants beat the infamous erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey to top the list of most banned books in America. No, do not adjust your eyes: you did read that last sentence correctly. Filled with poop jokes, grotty undergarments and misbehaving central characters, this is the series authority figures truly love to hate. Kids, of course, just love it.
5. A Light in the Attic (Shel Silverstein)
This is possibly the craziest one. Somewhere in America, at some point, the powers-that-be decided that this classic was unfit for young eyes because of ‘a suggestive illustration that might encourage children to break dishes so they won’t have to dry them.’ Well, you can’t be too careful.
6. Little Red Riding Hood (Brothers Grimm)
Ah, you’re thinking, I know this one. The wolf first eats a character and then has his stomach sliced open with an axe. That is pretty horrific, to be fair. But no, once again you’re making the mistake of using common sense. The real reason this gruesome tale was banned by two California school districts was because Red Riding Hood was carrying wine in her basket.
Note: Each of these books really has at some point been censored by an authority – a government, library, or school system – and actually removed from the bookshelves. Crazy as it seems, we’re not making this stuff up!
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