Since the '80s, literary-minded troublemakers have been celebrating banned books. These pieces of literature dare to vaguely step outside the imaginary boundaries of good behavior. Thanks to the sensitive sensibilities of parents and authority figures, there are a lot of books banned for dumb reasons, especially children’s books that do nothing beyond ask readers to open their minds to new possibilities. Innocent books banned in schools usually have some similarities, like a disregard for authority or a character using language unbefitting of an upstanding imaginary character. If you thought the only classic books that deal with teenage angst or the atrocities of war are subject to a ban, then you’re very wrong. Most of the books banned from schools are seminal stories for young people, which makes their censorship so much worse.
Parents banning books seems to go completely against everything that a parent should do. Stories are meant to challenge the reader, and allow you to take a vacation into another world. If you begin policing a book because its characters are “theologically impossible” or because a character doesn’t care for their principal, then you’re not allowing the reader to act out those fantasies in their head, and you’re tamping down on someone’s emotional growth. Keep reading to find out the craziest reasons a book was banned, and then stop by your local library -they miss you.
This collection of books by Dav Pilkey follows two fourth graders who accidentally manifest a superhero named Captain Underpants when they hypnotize their principal, Mr. Krupp. According to the American Library Association, Captain Underpants was one of the most banned books of 2012 because it encouraged children to disobey authority. For instance, in one of the chapters the two protagonists refer to their principal as "that old guy" and "Mean Old Mr. Krupp." What is Dav Pilkey teaching our children?! In the ALA's "State of Censorship" address from 2014, the series was referred to as "the gift that keeps on giving," so Pilkey, and Captain Underpants, is doing just fine. So fine it was adapted into a movie.
Harriet the Spy: a book about an enterprising and inquisitive young woman with a can-do attitude, or the story of a degenerate gossip who slanders and puts strangers through Hell without showing one iota of remorse for her actions? When the book was initially released, most parents and teachers felt the latter. They were worried that the book would teach their children "delinquent tendencies." Even though the book was mired in controversy when it was first released, it still manages to consistently chart on the Top 100 Children’s Novels list made by the School Library Journal.
When it comes to innocent literature, you can't get much more innocent than looking through a book for a guy who's just standing around in a sweater. Or can you? According to Chris Zammarelli - a writer on the now-defunct literary review website bookslut.com - one of the Where's Waldo books features a bare breast, and this was backed up by an Amazon reviewer who wrote: "I have looked into it, and it appears that the reason Where's Waldo was banned [was] because it features adult material such as 'topless sunbathers,' and other adult 'hidden pictures.'" That being said, no one has ever specifically pointed out illustrated skin in one of the books, so maybe this is all a horrible rumor started by Odlaw.
Judy Blume has a knack for writing seminal coming-of-age stories that capture the raw emotions of being a pre-teen, specifically a pre-teen girl, so it shouldn't be a shocker that snooty uptight people believe her Are You There God to be “iffy,” sexually explicit, and immoral. Why? Because it's a book for young people that talks about menstruation, the merits of Judaism and Christianity, and at one point Margaret disrespects authority figures. When discussing the censorship with The Guardian Blume commented, "My feeling in the beginning was wait, this is America: we don't have censorship, we have, you know, freedom to read, freedom to write, freedom of the press, we don't do this, we don't ban books. But then they did."