In honor of Banned Books Week, FIRE’s First Amendment Library has launched a new resource dedicated to highlighting books that have been banned or challenged in the United States throughout history. A book is challenged when people call for it to be banned or removed from the public’s access — whether it be from an elementary school library, public library, or a high school suggested summer reading list. You may be shocked to find some of your favorite books on this list!
This list of books is by no means exhaustive and will expand in honor of Banned Books Week every year. Learn more about the challenges each book has faced by scrolling over its cover to reveal the reasons people called for censorship and additional facts about select censorship attempts. Many of the descriptions link to resources provided by the American Library Association, which takes on the important task of monitoring challenges to the public’s access to literature.
Some facts you’ll find include:
- The U.S. Postal Service burned copies of “Ulysses” by James Joyce and banned “For Whom the Bell Tolls” by Ernest Hemingway from being mailed;
- Gloria Steinem advocated for a boycott of “American Psycho” by Bret Easton Ellis. Years later, she became the stepmother of Christian Bale, star of the movie adaptation of the book;
- “Nineteen Eighty-Four” by George Orwell was challenged for being “pro-communist,” ironically;
- In 1985, “A Light in the Attic” by Shel Silverstein was challenged by parents at a Wisconsin elementary school for “encourag[ing] children to break dishes so they won’t have to dry them.”
We hope our readers leave this resource feeling inspired to pick up a book they normally would not consider — if only because we have the freedom to do so.