this one is a long one… stick with me though!

Some subjects don’t matter to me, others i could go either way with and still others, i take great issue with… the censorship of literature is one of the latter.

There are many wonderful works of literary genius in this world; many brilliant books that challenge the mind, the heart, and the soul.

Before many of you moms and pops out there jump down my throat, hear me out. I don’t advise letting children run amuck in their reading, but children are smarter than we give them credit for. They have minds that want to learn (whether they know it or not) and they should be allowed to explore the literary world.

Would you stop you child from riding a bike because they may learn to ride it with no hands and that can be dangerous? Would you not allow you child to eat chocolate because it may give them a cavity if they don’t take care of their sweet tooth and brush their teeth? Would you not teach your child to drive a car because when they get their license it is up to them how they handle that power (no matter how many threats a parent makes, when a teen is in a car by themselves, it is entirely within their control). Okay, i know these aren’t perfect analogies, but they should at least get you thinking. Bikes were made to be ridden. Chocolate was made to be eaten. Cars were made to be driven. Books were written to be read.

But here is the key… ALL of these things (bikes, chocolate, cars, books) require responsibility. For you child to enjoy a bike, they have to know that a bike can hurt them. This same concept works for chocolate, cars AND books. You must teach a child to be discerning and wise when reading. If you have taught these things to your child, then there should be no fear in your mind of letting your child read (age-appriopriate in respect to nightmares or romance, etc.) books.

I have decided to write my thoughts on some of the most popularly banned books. Agree or not, I will only respect the opinion of those that have actually READ the books. Oh and if you have read a book that i haven’t and can offer some insight, please do (aka. leave a comment!)

Thank you to for the following list. The green text is my thoughts on the books.

Books Banned at One Time or Another in the United States

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess – A ingenious book that created its own language and challenged readers to push their minds past the usual thought processes. 
A Wrinkle in Time
 by Madeleine L’Engle – Gotta love a story about time travel and kids on a pilgrimage (that they don’t know is a pilgrimage) …Meg Murry and two fellow misfits set off on a wormhole journey (in the books its the Tesseract) in search of Meg’s father who mysteriously disappeared. They are accompanied by three angelic beings who guide them on their way.  
Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Blubber by Judy Blume
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley – If you want a story of revolution, this is it. It’s a favorite of mine. Everyone is under the rule of the World State, a peaceful environment where sex isn’t for reproduction at all, but rather for recreation. It’s a social activity that is encouraged from childhood. Oh, and there is soma. But, there is revolution of humanity! Love, love, love… 
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Canterbury Tales by Chaucer – Not a favorite book of mine, but interesting nonetheless due to the lessons one can learn. It’s a basic collection of stories. It amazes me that this collection was banned in the United States. 
Carrie by Stephen King
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller – A historical satire highlighting WWII. I will be honest, i read this one so long ago, i don’t remember all my thoughts on it. 
Christine by Stephen King
Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Cujo by Stephen King
Curses, Hexes, and Spells by Daniel Cohen
Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite
Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller – A spectacular of a normal family and a normal man who wants more out of life, especially for his sons, and can’t cope with the reality that they, like him, are normal… average. A suicide might be why this book is so feared, but it’s honest. 
Decameron by Boccaccio
East of Eden by John Steinbeck – This is the story of a messed up family. There is murder, lying, hate, prostitution and more. But it’s redeeming quality is that you care about the charters and their plight. 
Fallen Angels by Walter Myers
Fanny Hill (Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure) by John Cleland
Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Forever by Judy Blume
Grendel by John Champlin Gardner
Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling – I grew up with Harry Potter. He is, technically, a few years older than me if he were *spoiler alert* a real person. It worked out nicely that as I was an appropriate age when books five, six, and seven came out. They are dark books, but brilliant books! It made me a little sick to see 8-year-olds reading book seven when it came out, but then again, I know 16-year-olds whose parents ban the books from their home. Fun side note: When some of my extended family saw me reading the series at a family gathering, i was given quite a tongue-lashing because “what would my grandpa think!?” My response was that Grandpa was wonderfully open minded and had i told him that the premise of the book was a classic tale of good versus evil where good wins, it wouldn’t have mattered to him that involved teenage witches and wizards. Beyond that, if i had explained that the book highlights the importance of friendship and trust, that it depicts accurately the trials of a teenage life, and Harry Potter and his friends know what they believe and fight for it, Grandpa wouldn’t have batted an eye about me reading the series. Oh, and I believe that my Grandpa trusted my ability to reason and think. That is key! As humans with the ability to read, we must also utilize the ability to reason! 
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling – see above
Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling – see above
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling – see above
Have to Go by Robert Munsch
Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Impressions edited by Jack Booth
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
It’s Okay if You Don’t Love Me by Norma Klein
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman – A beautiful poet with such a love of nature. I have this book in my office and when the walls start to close in, that’s what i grab and read for a few minutes to remind me that the world is so big and vast. 
Little Red Riding Hood by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Lord of the Flies by William Golding – Place a bunch of pre-pubecent boys on an island and see what you get… mass chaos! Though i can understand why this book might be scary to parents, its speaks to the humanity of people. It’s a powerful depiction of human nature. Want to see what aliens might see if they came to earth, read this book. 
Love is One of the Choices by Norma Klein
Lysistrata by Aristophanes – The original tale of women withholding sex from their husbands that causes a battle of the sexes. If you appreciate the style of writing (which i do) then you will find this piece highly amusing! 
More Scary Stories in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
My Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
My House by Nikki Giovanni
My Friend Flicka by Mary O’Hara
Night Chills by Dean Koontz
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck – The only Steinbeck that i truly love, this book is about two friends on a journey.
On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
One Day in The Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey – It’s an amazing story of human behavior … set in a mental institution. Fascinating book, fascinating film. 
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Ordinary People by Judith Guest
Our Bodies, Ourselves by Boston Women’s Health Collective
Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl
Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones by Alvin Schwartz
Scary Stories in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
Separate Peace by John Knowles
Silas Marner by George Eliot
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. – I love Vonnegut. That’s all their is to it. He writes honestly. This tale is one of war and survival and, in my opinion, answers the questions: what would you do to survive?
Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain – If you don’t know what this coming-of-age tale is about… read it. It’s wonderful! 
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain – See my thoughts on Huck Finn. 
The Bastard by John Jakes
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger – Holden fits the mold of a classic angst-filled teen. Why shouldn’t teens have someone to relate to!
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
The Color Purple by Alice Walker – Okay, not my favorite book, but i’m glad i have read it. It’s an exceedingly sad book about Celia and the awful lot in life she has been dealt. She is raped by her father, is forced into a marriage, enters into a homosexual relationship with a jazz singer, believes that she looses her sister… but it all ends happy. 
The Devil’s Alternative by Frederick Forsyth
The Figure in the Shadows by John Bellairs
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck – Probably one of my least favorite books of all time, but still a classic that should be read by all. Essentially, it’s the Joad family’s journey on Route 66 during the Depression. Oh and it has a messed up ending. 
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Snyder
The Learning Tree by Gordon Parks
The Living Bible by William C. Bower
The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare – It’s Shakespeare… just read it! 
The New Teenage Body Book by Kathy McCoy and Charles Wibbelsman
The Pigman by Paul Zindel
The Seduction of Peter S. by Lawrence Sanders
The Shining by Stephen King
The Witches by Roald Dahl
The Witches of Worm by Zilpha Snyder
Then Again, Maybe I Won’t by Judy Blume
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee – An American classic that, again, should be read by all. Meet Scout and Jem and their father (lawyer) Atticus, who live in a small town in Alabama. Atticus must defend a black man accused of raping a white women. He does and does it well, but the jury still convicts the man. Scout’s faith in the justice system is shaken. There is more to the story, but geez, read the book! Oh, and there is Boo Radley!
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare – Again, it’s Shakespeare… just read it! 
Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary by the Merriam-Webster Editorial Staff
Witches, Pumpkins, and Grinning Ghosts: The Story of the Halloween Symbols by Edna Barth

This list inspires me to read more, to learn more, to challenge preconceptions more. So, if you want to know what i will be reading over the next few months and years, check the list. There’s a pretty good chance the book will be on it.

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