Frequently Challenged Books

Following are some of the most frequently challenged books and the objections raised. The challenges range from demands that the book be removed from the curriculum, either as mandatory or elective reading, to demands that it be pulled from the school library. Because of the local nature of book challenges, it is difficult to list the books in any definitive order. The list is based on information from People for the American Way and the American Library Association.

  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou. Description of a rape; complaints the book is “anti-white.”
  • The Giver, by Lois Lowry. Condones infanticide, endorses abortion, and promotes new age practices such as guided imagery.
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain. Incessant use of the word “nigger.”
  • Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck. Profanity.
  • The Color Purple, by Alice Walker. Too violent and sexually graphic and deals with lesbianism.
  • The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier. Profane language and sexual content.
  • Go Ask Alice, Anonymous (diary of a teenage drug user). Depictions of drug use, sexual situations, and suicide.
  • The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger. Uses the “f” word and portrays prostitution, teenage depression, and alienation.
  • A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck. “Gory” descriptions of two pigs mating, a pig being slaughtered, and a cow giving birth.
  • Native Son, by Richard Wright. Sexually graphic and violent; uses the word “nigger.”
  • My Brother Sam is Dead, by Christopher and James Lincoln Collier. Profanity and graphic depictions of war.
  • Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson. Profanity, disrespect of adults, and an elaborate fantasy world that “might lead to confusion.”
  • Goosebumps series, by R. L. Stine. Violence and glorification of the occult.
  • It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris (a sex eduation book). Discussions of sexuality, including homosexuality.
  • Forever, by Judy Blume. Sexual themes.
  • Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, by Alvin Schwartz. Overly violent and frightening and “dabbles in the occult.”
  • More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, by Alvin Schwartz.
  • Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones, by Alvin Schwartz.
  • Halloween ABC, by Even Merriam. Halloween is of pagan origin and the book is “evil.”

The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) has developed a series of responses to many of the books listed, in which classroom teachers have outlined their educational rationale for keeping the book in either the curriculum or library. The NCTE is in the process of compiling the responses on a CD-Rom, which should be available in coming months. For information contact the NCTE, 1-800-369-6283.