Banned Books Week: Children’s Literature

Today, in honor of banned book week, I’ve chosen to focus on some of the stories and books I read as a child and loved. All of the books listed have been challenged or banned at some point, and a more conclusive list of banned childrens books can be found at the University of Illinois ’ website. (

wherewildcovWhere the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak: A naughty little boy, sent to bed without his supper, sails to the land of the wild things where he becomes their king.

Where’s Waldo, Martin Hanford: The reader follows Waldo as he hikes around the world and must try to find him in the illustrations of some of the crowded places he visits.

Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain: The adventures and pranks of a mischievous boy growing up in a 19th-century Mississippi River town as he plays hooky on an island, witnesses a crime, hunts for pirate’s treasure, and becomes lost in a cave.

Alice in Lace, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor: While planning a wedding as part of an assignment for her eighth-grade health class, Alice thinks about her father’s and older brother’s love lives and learns that you cannot prepare for all of life’s decisions.

All But Alice, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor: Seventh grader Alice decides that the only way to stave off personal and social disasters is to be part of the crowd, especially the “in” crowd, no matter how boring and, potentially, difficult.

Anastasia at Your Service, Lois Lowry: Twelve-year-old Anastasia has a series of disastrous experiences when, expecting to get a job as a lady’s companion, she is hired instead to be a maid.

Anastasia Krupnik, Lois Lowry: Anastasia’s 10th year has some good things like falling in love and really getting to know her grandmother and some bad things like finding out about an impending baby brother.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Judy Blume: Faced with the difficulties of growing up and choosing a religion, an eleven-year-old girl talks over her problems with her own private God.

Blubber, Judy Blume: Jill goes along with the rest of the fifth-grade class in tormenting a classmate and then finds out what it’s like when she, too, becomes a target.

Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Paterson: Ten-year-old Jesse Aarons, who has lived all his life on a farm in Virginia, becomes friends with Leslie Burke, a “city girl” who has moved into a farmhouse down the road and opens doors to culture and imaginative play. But then tragedy strikes.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl: A poor boy wins a tour of a chocolate factory and a supply of chocolate.

Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White: The story of Wilbur, the pig, smallest of the litter, who is raised by the farmer’s daughter, and who finds a friend in Charlotte , the spider.

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E.L. Konigsburg: Claudia and her brother run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she sees a statue so beautiful, she must identify its sculptor. To find out, she must visit the statue’s former owner, the elderly Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

The Giver, Lois Lowry: Given his lifetime assignment at the Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas becomes the receiver of memories shared by only one other in his community and discovers the terrible truth about the society in which he lives.

Goosebumps (series) R.L.Stine: Scary stories with mild gore.

Harriet the Spy, Louise Fitzhugh: Eleven-year-old Harriet, who wants to be a writer, writes down everything she sees, but alienates her friends in the process.

Here’s to You, Rachel Robinson, Judy Blume: Expelled from boarding school, Charles’ presence at home proves disruptive, especially for sister Rachel, a gifted seventh-grader trying to balance friendships and school activities.

Holes, Louis Sachar: As further evidence of his family’s bad fortune which they attribute to a curse on a distant relative, Stanley Yelnats is sent to a hellish correctional camp in the Texas desert where he finds his first real friend, a treasure, and a new sense of himself.

James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl: A contemporary fairy tale starring the heroic little James, a group of overgrown garden insects who become his friends, and a peach the size of a house.

Little Women, Louisa May Alcott: Chronicles the joys and sorrows of the four March sisters as they grow into young women in nineteenth-century New England .

More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Alvin Schwartz: More traditional and modern-day stories of ghosts, witches, vampires, “jump” stories, and scary songs.

Scary Stories (Series), Alvin Schwartz: Yarns about ghosts and witches, “jump” stories, scary songs, and modern-day scary tales. Many include song lyrics and music.

Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself, Judy Blume: Getting to know the kids at her new school in Miami , making up stories about starring in movies, and finding the evidence needed to convince the chief of police that Hitler is alive keep ten-year-old Sally busy during the winter of 1948.

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Judy Blume: A fourth grade boy tries to deal with his very active brother.

Where Did I Come From?,  Peter Mayle: Written for children 4-8 yrs. old, this book describes the reproductive process from intercourse to birth.

The Witches, Roald Dahl: A young boy and his Norwegian grandmother, who is an expert on witches, together foil a witches’ plot to destroy the world’s children by turning them 24666921into mice.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain: Huckleberry Finn, an abused outcast, rafts with Jim, a runaway slave, down the Mississippi River , where they have a variety of experiences.

Alice on the Outside, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor: Eighth-grader Alice has lots of questions about sex, relationships, prejudice, and change.

Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging, Louise Rennison: Presents the humorous journal of a year in the life of a fourteen-year-old British girl who tries to reduce the size of her nose, stop her mad cat from terrorizing the neighborhood animals, and win the love of handsome hunk Robbie.

Annie’s Baby: The Diary of Anonymous, a Pregnant Teenager, Jessica Trantowski: Annie, 14, falls head over heels for handsome, wealthy 16-year-old Danny when he befriends her. But soon she is left to face her biggest challenge on her own.

Athletic Shorts: Six Short Stories, Chris Crutcher: A collection of short stories featuring characters from earlier books by Chris Crutcher.

The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger: After leaving prep school Holden Caulfield spends three days on his own in New York City

The Chocolate War, Robert Cormier: A high school freshman discovers the devastating consequences of refusing to join in the school’s annual fund raising drive and arousing the wrath of the school bullies.

Deenie, Judy Blume: A thirteen-year-old girl seemingly destined for a modeling career finds she has a deformation of the spine called scoliosis.

The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank: Born in 1929, Anne Frank received a blank diary journal on her 13th birthday, just weeks before going into hiding in Nazi occupied Holland . Her world-wide success of her journal is a fitting memorial to the gifted Jewish teenager who died at Bergen-Belsen , Germany , in 1945.

Dicey’s Song, Cynthia Voigt: Now that the four abandoned Tillerman children are settled in with their grandmother, Dicey must decide what she wants for her siblings and herself.

Face on the Milk Carton, Caroline Cooney: A photograph of a missing girl on a milk carton leads Janie on a search for her real identity.

Go Ask Alice, Anonymous: A novel in diary form of a fifteen-year-old girl’s journey from a secure middle class family to the nightmare world of drug addiction, hustlers, and dealers.

It Happened to Nancy, Beatrice Sparks: The editor of the classic GO ASK ALICE has compiled the poignant journals of a 14-year-old date-rape victim who contracted AIDS and died.

Killing Mr. Griffin, Lois Duncan: A teenager casually suggests playing a cruel trick on the English teacher, but did he intend it to end with murder?

Lord of the Flies, William Golding: The classic study of human nature which depicts the degeneration of a group of schoolboys marooned on a desert island.

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, Lurlene McDaniel: Carrie Blake, whose leukemia is in remission and whose parents are divorced, turns to her friendship with Keith for support until his own illness worsens.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Ann Brashares: Four best girlfriends spend the biggest summer of their lives enchanted by a magical pair of pants.

Sloppy Firsts, Megan McCafferty: Devastated when her best friend moves away, sixteen-year-old Jessica Darling feels isolated at school and at home, as she struggles to deal with her father’s obsession with her track meets, her boy-crazy peers, and her own nonexistent love life.

stargirlStargirl, Jerry Spinelli: In this story about the perils of popularity, the courage of nonconformity, and the thrill of first love, an eccentric student named Stargirl changes Mica High School forever.

That Summer, Sarah Dessen: During the summer of her divorced father’s remarriage and her sister’s wedding, fifteen-year-old Haven comes into her own by letting go of the myths of the past.

This Lullaby, Sarah Dessen: Raised by a mother who’s had five husbands, eighteen-year-old Remy believes in short-term, no-commitment relationships until she meets Dexter, a rock band musician.

Tiger Eyes, Judy Blume: Resettled in Los Alamos , New Mexico with her mother and brother, Davey Wexler recovers from the shock of her father’s death during a holdup of his 7-Eleven store in Atlantic City .

Honestly, I don’t think there is a book on this list that I didn’t love. There is also not a book on this list that I would not allow my hypothetical children to read (with the possible exception of Where Did I Come From?, by Peter Mayle, which is quite graphic for 4-8 year olds). My boyfriend’s nine year old daughter is currently reading the Scary Stories books, by Alvin Schwartz. I loved those books when I was in elementary school and was constantly checking them out of the library. As Ally is reading them now, she will read me some of the stories or I’ll ask her if she’s read the story about such and such. It’s been a lot of fun and I’m currently holding the audiobook version at the library for us to listen to next time she comes home. I remember as a kid I loved the Alice books, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor as well as Lois Lowry’s series about Anastasia Krumpnick. There was something endearing and relatable about Anastasia and Alice that made me want to revisit them over and over again. A few of the books on this list I didn’t read until I was an adult. Holes was a book I read a few years ago for a Children’s Lit class in college. I remember thinking it sounded kind of stupid but then, once I started it I couldn’t put it down. I’ve also read quite a few of Sarah Dessen’s novels as an adult and I think she is great at writing about topics that a lot of young girls come in contact with throughout adolescence. I was already planning on stopping by the library tonight so it may be the perfect opportunity to pick up some banned books to read. Later on this week I’ll also highlight a list of adult banned books, so keep an eye out for that. What are some of your favorite children/YA books that have been challenged or banned?