Submit your own Neatorama post and vote for others' posts to earn NeatoPoints that you can redeem for T-shirts, hoodies and more over at the NeatoShop!

12 Books That Have (Ironically) Been Banned in the U.S.

September 24th through October 1st is Banned Books Week. In honor of the occasion, here is a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website.

Talk about an easy subject to research! It might have been easier to write up a "books that have never been banned anywhere" list. The banning of books seems so ridiculous, simplistic, and stupid to most of us. But man, in all his Jeckyll and Hyde glory, will all-too-often, when trying to solve a problem, come up with a solution much worse. This is "the 29th annual Banned Books Week." The week is used to condemn censorship and "thought police."

O.K., let's take a look at a brief (in the scheme of these things) list of books that have been (ironically) banned here in the U.S....

1. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury Fahrenheit 451 has to head this list of "ironic books banned." Why? Fahrenheit 451 is an entire novel about the future and the banning (and burning) of books. It was banned, ironically, because one of the books that eventually gets banned and burned is the Bible. Drawn your own conclusions, my (hopefully) intelligent readers.

2. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain Mark Twain was a racist? A product of the times? Twain uses the bombshell "N" word so as to illustrate the awfulness of the word (and all its connotations). This vicious word is still, far and away, the most highly-charged and controversial word in the English language. So, the knee-jerk reaction is to ban the book. Or better still, as in more recent examples, issue the book with the "N" word cleverly edited out.

3. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger There isn't enough time to edit out all the examples of the expression "f*** you" being used in this one. Also banned because it promotes youthful rebellion and disrespect of authority. Catcher in the Rye was the book that guy was reading when he shot and killed John Lennon. So maybe if it were still banned...  hmmm, slippery slope, isn't it?

4. Where's Waldo? by Martin Handford Misprint, right? Uh, no. The very first Where's Waldo? book was, indeed, banned, because in one of the Where's Waldo? drawings a beach is shown featuring a woman lying on the sand with part of her breast showing. It was actually just a side view of her breast, with a penciled-in microscopic nipple shown. Do you realize the meticulous research and hours of time it must have taken whoever discovered this "offensive" character amidst all the thousands and thousands of characters featured in a Waldo book?

5. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank This is the incredible story of an ever-hopeful and ever-wistful young girl who is eventually killed in the Holocaust. In some ways, it is the ultimate example of the ever-classic theme of "Good vs. Evil." Or one very good person in the face of perhaps the greatest evil of the past several centuries. Yet despite her incredibly horrible enemies and fate, this remarkable teenage girl still believes in "the basic goodness of mankind." Banned by the Alabama State Textbook Committee in 1983 for being "a real downer."

6. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee Like our pal Huck Finn, this book has been banned because of the free-flowing use of the "N" word. And like Twain's book, it is used to paint an accurate picture of the period (and all its ignorance). It has been banned across America for "racial slurs" and for "promoting white supremacy." Also because a parent thought the way "blacks are treated by members of [the] white community in a way that would upset black children." Only ironic because never, but never, in the entire history of literature, has good and evil been so clearly portrayed and delineated. Real (not ersatz) racism is shown under a clear magnifying glass, in all its vicious cruelty. (As a sidebar, to those of you who do not like reading -definitely see the movie. To Kill a Mockingbird is without question one of the greatest movies ever made. One of those rare times "the movie is equally as great as the book it is based upon.")

7. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling The Harry Potter books are far and away the most banned books of the past decade. Extremely ironic in that the Harry Potter series has probably inspired more young people to read than all the Hooked on Phonics and Pizza Hut books in the world. Also one other point for all those people who have worked so tirelessly to ban these highly-popular books: strip away the magic and the Dr. Seuss creatures and the wizards and sorcerers, and ultimately the series boils down to the message that love, understanding, and tolerance are the most important things in the world.

8. Little Red Riding Hood (You can't make this stuff up, folks!) Little Red Riding Hood has been banned for the use of alcohol (one of the items in Red Riding Hood's basket is a bottle of wine).

9. Sleeping Beauty The fairy tale was banned for promoting witchcraft and magic.

10. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck This classic was banned for "vulgar language."

11. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh Why do I feel like I am writing a Monty Python sketch? Could there possibly be a more harmless, innocuous book than Harriet the Spy? O.K. this one was banned because it "teaches children to lie, spy, back-talk, and curse."

12. Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe This book was banned in the South during the Civil War because of its anti-slavery content. Well, heck, that was over 150 years ago. Fortunately, as we all know, man has come a long way since those days of ignorance.

I guess we could have changed the title to 12 Books That Have (Ironically) Been Banned Somewhere or Many Places in the U.S. at One Time or Another Or Maybe Several Times, but that's awfully long.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
It's anything but ironic that the world's most notorious police state, one of the least just and most unequal countries for its average citizens, should impose to censorship in order to maintain the propagandistic fiction of being a freedom loving democracy.
"Obviously" is the most apt parenthetical for this headline.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I would like to remind you that attacking other commenters is forbidden at Neatorama. I just deleted such a comment. If you can make your point without calling names, you are welcome to comment.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Thanks Miss Cellania. As is quite obvious to everyone, politics is a very "hot button issue". I hope the article didn't upset anyone and I wish all Neatorama readers a great day!
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
The Harry Potter Series is the very reason why I became motivated to read. I'm Catholic and I know for a fact that that series does not promote Black Magic - or so I believe.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I would go out on a limb and assume that most cases for these books being banned (mostly from schools and possible libraries) are parents who are too shallow to see the meanings behind the dialects and colloquialisms present in most of these books. It makes me sad that in a country of "free speech" that some tight-assed members of the community pointed enough fingers and whined loud enough to get these literary masterpieces "banned".
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
The bible has some pretty violent parts, too...
And in Winnie the Pooh there is this incredibly binge-eating bear. Might encourage kids to eat too much sugar. And Eye-ore is too depressed! ;-D
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Most of these are false as it's only in a very specific area or time period. If you're going to keep the title, can you at least show when and where the book was banned?
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
And US citizens think they live in the free world?

BTW there is one good reason to ban Harry Potter books. They are so damned derivative, and that's a polite way of putting it.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
The banning of books is only a short step from the burning of books - in my opinion one of the most heinous crimes in existence. Banning books is banning information, and banning information ("good" or "bad") is an enslavement of peoples minds and free will.
Shame on the pertinent states and by inflection shame on the USA.
P.H. Copenhagen, Denmark
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I think the title of this article is misleading. You can buy ALL these books in the united states. It only serves to give the haters and cranks a reason to rag on the USA.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Hi to everyone who read and/or commented on this article. I do see the point of those who state "you should have cited exact dates and locations where these books were banned". I think that is a fair and valid point. Yes, context is important, and in the article's introduction I should have stated: "The following examples are all of books once banned in certain areas and at a certain time in the U.S." Yes, I can see how the article's title could be misleading. My apologies for any misunderstandings caused.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
The fuss over "the N word" just baffles me! It's simply a corruption of negro, which is a Spanish word meaning black (the preferred term). No one gets offended when their roast beef sandwich with juice is called "au jus". And oddly, the people most often heard using the N word around here are zwart (that's dutch for black...anyone you offended?)
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
The important part here is that many of these books have been banned by school districts because of the pseudo-christian beliefs.
I do think there is a just cause for banning the Bible (or at least certain parts) - all the begatting in Genesis - it must had been a public orgy back then. Very slippery and not something I need my kids to read. And do you really think kids should read Revelation - it reads like a a bad Keanu Reeves movie plot.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
"Strip away the magic and the Dr. Seuss creatures and the wizards and sorcerers, and ultimately the Harry Potter series boils down to the message that love, understanding, and tolerance are the most important things in the world."

Or, that education, even in potentially lethal subjects, taught in a magical castle with secret passages by animagi and half-giants and possessed zombies, is too boring to waste time on; and in the end, you might as well commit suicide by a literally (and metaphorically) toothless villain, since one day you'll be just another tired, middle-aged ex-jock with a dead-end job, holding up the racist status quo and looking longingly at the balding blond guy you should have hooked up with back when, instead of the ginger harridan who's ridden your coattails to the good life.

Just adding a different perspective. Since I read the books, and I'm fairly certain that he-who-shall-not-be-named, didn't.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Let snot forget Wilhelm Reich (March 24, 1897 – November 3, 1957)-On August 23, six tons of his books, journals, and papers were burned in the 25th Street public incinerator in New York's lower east side, the Gansevoort incinerator.[74] Among the material destroyed were titles that were supposed only to be banned, including 12,189 copies of the Orgone Energy Bulletin, 6,261 copies of the International Journal of Sex Economy and Orgone Research, 2,900 copies of Emotional Plague Versus Orgone Biophysics, 2,976 copies of Annals of the Orgone Institute, and hardcover copies of several of his books, including The Sexual Revolution, Character Analysis, and The Mass Psychology of Fascism.[19] This action has been cited as one of the worst examples of censorship in U.S. history.[2]-(WIKI)

Heya Swampy!!!
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
sininen -- thank you for making me smile with your Winnie the Pooh ban suggestions : ) That devilish bear is consistently providing our youth with examples of poor behavior and worse spelling!
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
About Waldo: the point of the Waldo books are to get you to scour them meticulously to find Waldo. So it's not exactly odd that someone would look at the pictures in detail. It's the point of the book! that's why he puts characters in there doing funny things. And maybe having naked women in it isn't exactly appropriate for a childrens book.

And to list these books as banned in the USA is ignoring the narrow regional aspects of each incident. As for the USA bashers, maybe you may want to check the free-thinking bookstores in Iran or China.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
These books were banned by local boards of education, not by the US as a whole; except. In the case of Uncle Tom's Cabin, when the US was not 'as a whole' itself! I don't think there ever has been a book in the US that the US government has banned.

For those of you who may not know, boards of education are run at the township level, and I believe roll up to a state level. There isn't much that's mandated at a national level.

As to the title of the article, this could have easily been made clearer by changing 'have been' to 'were once'. The point of writing, above all else, should be clarity! What's the point of writing if you're not properly understood?
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Doesn't "have been" imply "in the past at some time"?
Great article! My sister and I went to catholic grammar & high schools and both of us read catcher in the rye and to kill a mockingbird. I don't think either of us has actually sat down and *read* the bible. Being a recovering catholic, maybe that should be my next book to read?
Also loved the comment on harry potter. You're right...he should have dumped the ginger for the toehead.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
"Or better still, as in more recent examples, issue the book with the “N” word cleverly edited out."

Changing an author's words to appease those who take offense is never acceptable. Authors, especially those as masterful as Twain, take great care to make their point through their choice of language.

To quote Twain himself, "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug."

Every point of contention is a teachable moment and an opportunity for discussion. Let's stop robbing our students of those opportunities for real thinking.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Michael, I agree. Just this year, someone was going to a do version of Huck Finn with every instance of that word replaced by "slave." It certainly isn't the same, and in many places just will not work at all.

The very idea inspired a parody.

However, although I am opposed to censorship and think young people should all be aware of the way things were in the past, I can empathize with teachers who find it very difficult in this day and age to discuss Huckleberry Finn and its language in a middle school class. They say it's like trying to cross a mine field.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
And here I thought America was all about free speech. Coming from Aus all these books and more are required reading in school. Huckleberry Finn? We read that in yr 10. To Kill A Mockingbird? Required to read in English class in year 10. Harry Potter? Had to read and also went to see it in year 7.
Btw, I do know that these are available to read, except (some)in some schools.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
the fact that comment number 7 exists in such a post as this is the definition of "ironic"

I think most people here would agree that to ban a comment based on "name calling" and therefore, censoring what might have been a valid point (we'll never know) is, in itself, immature.

My point is that when we come across a disparaging or immature comment, its nice to have a choice, either mind it and be outraged or simply ignore it.. isn't that what freedom of speech stands for?

the "n" word and every other word, opinion, concept or theory out there should be out in the open, this mindless censorship and banning is what gives such demeaning and offensive words their power in the first place..

Always respectfully,

Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
alxndr, this blog is not a government entity of any kind, it is a privately-owned website. The owner sets the rules for guests, and that means guests are warned not to attack other guests. It's like the rules you set in your home, which has nothing to do with censorship by a government entity like a public school or legislature. The free exchange of ideas is encouraged here. There is no need for name calling, which does not advance understanding or enlightenment. That's the way it is.

If someone comes into your home, even if you left the door open, and poops on your floor, you are not obliged to let it sit there in the name of free expression.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I note some posts here saying only certain small authorities (schools, libraries, etc.) have banned these books and as such this does reflect upon the US authorities as a whole. Sorry, but I'm afraid it does. A nation that allows the banning of books by tin pot local dictatorships is just as bad as one where the central authority bans books.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
For what it's worth, I immediately assumed the blog title meant what it actually meant - books that have, at one time or another, been banned in the US. :)

To those saying Iran and China are worse - yes, but we *expect* dictatorial censorship from dictators. We don't expect it from a country that celebrates its freedom of speech.

@Kevin George: I don't think the original meaning of the N word is offensive; it's offensive because of the way it's been used as a derogatory word, and now the word itself is a slur, regardless of original meaning.

I love how the people who ban these books are utterly missing the point of most of the books. An anti-racism book - let's ban it because it uses racist terms, albeit to show racism in a negative light!

Thanks for the article - an interesting read. :)
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
What about "Little Black Sambo"? Several books are indeed racist and should not be in schools. but many books should be exposed to many they are not.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
LOL I just KNEW I'd find comments here about how awful the USA is just because a few books get banned at some time or another in some place or another at some point in time or another.

For pete's sake. What is so outrageous about wanting to be sure that schoolkids don't have access to just anything at their school libraries? If they really want to read a book that has been banned, they can get it at the local library, or, hey, what a crazy idea, ask their parents to buy it for them. Nothing that gets banned ever goes unread.

In fact, I don't think a few parents wanting to protect their children is such a bad thing. Why not take this as an opportunity to say that American parents look out for their children?

No, of course, commenters here are, for the most part, going to use this type of post to bash America.

Haters gonna hate.

As for linking book-burning to simple book-banning, wow, you are really going a little far. Americans aren't known for burning books much. When was the last time you saw a community burn books? Duh.

There is nothing inherently wrong with Christian parents worrying about their children reading books that bash Xtianity.

Again, just another excuse by commenters here to bash Xtians.

I'm sure atheist parents adore seeing their children read books that are pro-religion.

Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.
Click here to access all of this post's 35 comments

Email This Post to a Friend
"12 Books That Have (Ironically) Been Banned in the U.S."

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More