25 Of The Most Banned Books And Why They Were Banned.

Posted by , Updated on November 23, 2023

This is a list we shouldn’t even be making in 2022. The banning of books should be a relic of a dark past that society has risen above. When you think of book banning, most thoughts probably go straight to old images of Nazi rallies where huge piles of books were burned, emitting thick black smoke and blotting out the sun.

But in the last few years, book banning has come back into style as more extreme members of the far-right have pushed the idea under the guise of “protecting children.” But what could be so dangerous about a book?

Here are 25 of the most banned books and why they were banned.



The Truth About Alice (Jennifer Mathieu)

the truth about alice

What it’s about:

Alice Franklin is a high school student about whom a rumor has started that she slept with two different guys in one night.

When one of the guys dies a couple of weeks later in a car accident, Alice is accused of sexting him, causing his death. It is a story about rumors, slut-shaming, and the effects lies can have on a young girl’s life.

Why it’s been banned:

From the description, you can see that the truth about Alice deals with very mature themes for its target young adult audience.

Religious and political groups have pointed to the adult themes rather than the core references of bullying, lies, and rumors, and how a young woman coming of age must deal with these forms of trauma.

Related: 25 Students You Might Remember From High School


The Hate U Give (Angie Thomas)

The Hate U Give

What it’s about:

The Hate U Give follows the life of an African American 16-year-old named Starr Carter as she navigates two worlds: her home life in a poor neighborhood and the mostly white, affluent private school that she attends.

After witnessing her childhood friend shot and killed by a white police officer, she speaks out and has her entire life changed.

Why it’s been banned:

Inspired by the black lives matter movement, the book was challenged by parents in various white-majority school districts who cited vulgar and insensitive language, drug use, and adult themes.

Police organizations also jumped in, calling the book an indoctrination tool for anti-police hatred. The fact that it deals with the real-world daily frustrations of the African American community is completely lost on them.


The Chocolate War (Robert Cormier)

The Chocolate War

What it’s about:

At Trinity, an all-boys Catholic high school, they have a yearly sale of chocolate bars to help fund school organizations.

One boy, a depressed kid named Jerry, looking for meaning in his mother’s death and his father’s grief, decides he isn’t going to sell anything after being manipulated by one of the popular boys; this causes an upheaval in the hierarchy of the school.

why it’s been banned:

First, it is critical of the Catholic Church. Second, it promotes an attitude of non-conformity. Third, it challenges the unquestioned loyalty to duplicitous leaders. And adult society can’t have those thoughts in young adults’ minds.


Bridge to Terabithia (Jatherine Peterson)

Bridge to Terabithia

What it’s about:

Two new friends, Leslie and Jessie, create an imaginary magical kingdom for themselves in the forest. It is the story of a life-changing friendship between two kids who bring out the best in each other.

Why it’s been banned:

It has been challenged by many parent groups, mainly religious, who believe the fantasy elements glamorize witchcraft and evil, use the word “Lord” in a secular way, and promote secular humanism and new age religions.

They also find it offensive that kids would use a fantasy world to deal with everyday issues in their lives.


The Lord of the Rings (JRR Tolkien)

Lord of the rings

What it’s about:

If you’ve been alive and breathing over the last decade or two, you know about The Lord of the Rings. Frodo Baggins and his friend Samwise join a fellowship led by the wizard Gandalf to destroy the “One Ring” of power.

Why it’s been banned:

Christian groups have for decades claimed the book is “anti-religious” and “Satanic.” Nevermind the fact that it was written as a Christian allegory by a devoutly Christian man who was partly responsible for C.S. Lewis becoming a Christian.


Guess what? (Mem Fox)

Guess What?

What it’s about:

This is a children’s picture book about an old woman who seems to have “witch-like” qualities. It is designed as an early reader to help children learn to read with repetitive phrasing.

Why it’s been banned:

Certain groups believe it has occult connections and that because the old woman ends up being an actual witch, it portrays witches in a positive light.


Harry potter Series (Jk Rowling)

Harry potter series

What it’s about

Seriously? You don’t even have to have read these books to still know about the boy wizard who lived.

Why it’s been banned:

Again, “certain groups” allege the books promote witchcraft, disobedience, and are “too dark.”

According to the Washington Post, one pastor in Nashville, Tennessee, stated, “The curses and spells used in the books are actual curses and spells, which when read by a human being risk conjuring evil spirits into the presence of the person reading the text.


The Curious Incident of a Dog in the Night time (Mark Haddon)

The Curious Incident of a Dog in the Night time

What it’s about;

Christopher is a 15-year-old gifted mathematician with behavioral issues (which may or may not be the result of high-functioning autism).

His life is in upheaval after he finds his neighbor’s dog dead from a stabbing. As he investigates the murder, he finds out far more about his life than he ever imagined

Why it’s been banned:

Certain parents complained about offensive language and a feeling that the book, which is about a person who likely has either high-functioning autism or Asperger’s syndrome learning how to function in his life, promotes atheism. 



On My Honor (Marion Dane Bauer)

On My honor

What it’s about;

Tony is not a good swimmer but he accepts a challenge to race his best friend Joel in a dangerous stretch of river. When Joel reaches the finish line, tony is nowhere to be found. Now Joel must live with the consequences of what has happened. 

Why it’s been banned;

Certain parent groups feel it is inappropriate because of the following:

Profanity- the book contains the words “hell”, “damn”, and “friggin.” Additionally, it was banned for sex- as in a couple sitting too close to each other in a car.

It was also banned for the tone of the movie as it was too depressing.  And nope, I’m not making this up…


Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Jonathan Safran Foer)

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

What it’s about:

Nine-year-old Oskar finds a key in a vase left by his father who died on September 11th. The book follows him on his journey to learn about the key and the father who left it behind. 

Why it’s been banned;

Although the book is a moving study of grief, mental illness, identity, and the effects of the 9/11 tragedy on the people left behind, it was still banned.

A few parents thought it was “extremely vulgar” because of sex scenes… as perceived by a nine-year-old’s understanding. 


The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)

The Lovely Bones

What it’s about;

A teenage girl in her own personal heaven watches her parents and friends deal with her rape and murder. As she watches them try to move on with their lives, she must come to terms with her own death.

Why it’s been banned:

Obviously, with the manner in which the girl’s death happened, there were sexual situations. And this did, understandably, cause some concern from parents.

Most people who opposed the book didn’t agree with the version of “Heaven” it presented. They are horrified and offended by this biblical version.


Something Happened in our Town: a Child's Story About Racial Injustice (Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazard)

Something Happened in our Town_ a Child's Story About Racial Injustice

What it’s about:

Two families discuss a racialized police shooting that occurred in their town.

Why it’s been banned;

Eight of the top 10 banned books are about racial injustice. This is something most conservative school districts do not want to discuss.

So a book that deals with police brutality, white privilege, and social injustice will absolutely be challenged and most likely banned.


Are You There God? It's me, Margaret. (Judy Blume)

Are You There God_ It's me, Margaret

What it’s about:

A young girl who has no religious affiliation due to her parent’s interfaith marriage tries to deal with anxiety over new life concerns like boys, bras, and periods.

It is a very popular book among middle schoolers due to their identification with and relatability to the main character. 

Why it’s been banned:

Some people believe it portrays Christian characters negatively and that topics like menstruation (which all of the intended readers are actually going through) are subjects that should not be discussed.


Almost Perfect (Brian Katcher)

Almost Perfect

What it’s about;

Logan finds out his girlfriend has cheated on him and befriends a new girl in school named sage. When sage tells logan she is transgender, logan must deal with his growing feelings for her.

Why it’s been banned:

Do I seriously even need to explain why some people are opposed to kids, or anyone for that matter, reading it? Groups such as the it’s your tea party and various religious groups oppose it for being “Pornographic and patently offensive”. 


George (Alex Gino)


What it’s about;

People who know Melissa think they know a boy named George. Wanting to play charlotte in the school’s production of charlotte’s web, he must figure out how to finally let everyone know who he is.

Why it’s been banned;

Well, it’s about a transgender teen so it is automatically in the crosshairs of “Certain groups”. They demanded that the book contained “Sexual references” (which they later admitted were not there) and that it conflicted with “Traditional family structure”.

One opponent stated that we should not put books in the hands of children that might require discussion. 


Goosebumps (R. L. stine)


What it’s about:

With over 130 titles, goosebumps is one of the biggest selling series of all time. These scary tales, while dealing with horror-ish themes, would usually have a surprising twist ending intended to give readers, well… goosebumps!

Why it’s been banned;

Surprisingly, there are almost no accusations about them being “Evil” or “Satanic”. Parents thought they were just way too scary. 


His Dark Materials (Phollip Pullman)

His Dark Materials

What it’s about:

His dark materials is a trilogy of fantasy books that follow two children as they navigate through three separate parallel universes

Why it’s been banned:

Though the books are filled with witches and talking animals, his dark materials doesn’t draw opposition for being occultist, but rather a series critical of the Christian religion. 


Maus (Art Spiegelman)


What it’s about;

Maus is a non-fiction graphic novel about Spiegelman’s father’s experience as a holocaust survivor. In the graphic novel, the Jewish people are portrayed as mice, the nazis as cats, and the American soldiers as dogs. 

Why it’s been banned;

Some school boards across the country have cited violence (it’s about WWII and the Holocaust), nudity (mice going to the gas chambers), profanity, and suicide (which happened often in the concentration camps.  


Thirteen reasons why (jay asher)

Thirteen reasons why

What it’s about:

Hannah Baker leaves a series of seven cassette tapes behind after she commits suicide. Each of the tapes tells the reason for her actions and is intended to be listened to by a specific person. 

Why it’s been banned;

It is a book dealing with bullying, suicide, and consent (Hannah is sexually assaulted).

Instead of using the book as a starting point for conversations about the darker side of adolescence that every child must face, many parents have chosen to bury it and hide kids from reality. 



Me and earl and the dying girl (jesse andrews)

Me and earl and the dying girl

What it’s about:

High school students Greg and Earl are loners that secretly make short films. After learning that one of his childhood friends, Rachel, is dying, he rekindles their friendship and introduces her to earl.

Why it’s been banned;

Language. It’s about loner high school guys and their dying friend. I’m sure they would never use bad language. Right?


It's a book (lane smith)

It's a book

What it’s about:

“it’s a book” is a subversive children’s picture book about reading in the digital age. It’s about not being so fascinated by devices that you miss life happening all around you. 

Why it’s been banned:

It’s a children’s picture book with two animals in it, one of which is a donkey. The final line of the book is “It’s a book, jackass.” evidently that was enough to freak some parents out.


The Holy Bible (Various)

The Holy Bible

What it’s about;

The book of the Christian faith split into the old and new testaments. The old testament shared stories of the creation of the world and its early history. The new testament is about Jesus and the effects he had on Jews of the day. 

Why it’s been banned:

It’s banned for several reasons including sexual content and the promotion of violence. Some have also stated that it promotes a specific religious viewpoint. (which sounds funny if it was the Quran, most wouldn’t be bothered at all.)

Opponents also cite the separation of church and state as a reason to remove it from schools and public libraries. 


Perks of being a wallflower (stephen chbosky)

Perks of being a wallflower

What it’s about:

High school freshman Charlie is dealing with his changing life as well as his best friend’s suicide. He finds his world opening up as he starts to spend time with an older group of seniors at his school. 

Why it’s been banned:

The book deals with themes of sexual awakening and has references to alcohol and drug use, and molestation. While some parents are offended by the content, Steven Chbosky has called it a ‘ ‘survival guide” for teenagers. 



The handmaid's tale ( margaret atwood)

The handmaid's tale

What it’s about:

The book is set in a dystopian near-future world where the US government has been overthrown by a Christian fundamentalist theocratic regime. It is a world where women’s rights have been stripped away and they are forced to be breeders. 

Why it’s been banned:

It has been banned because of being overly sexual, using profane language, having lgbtq+ characters, and being anti-Christian.

They have no problem with the subjugation of women to a religious society lorded over by men, but a gay character just cannot be tolerated. Yes, that was sarcastic. 


The Giver (Lois Lowry)

Banned Books

What it’s about: 

The world has become a utopian society. There is no pain, no difficult emotions, and no jealousy. There is a government-induced “Sameness” everywhere. 12-year-old Jonas is assigned to become the new “Giver”. A keeper of knowledge and truth.  

Why it’s been banned:

The usual reason stated for it being banned is “Violence” or being too dark for its intended readers. But this book is about not blindly accepting the word of those in power and seeing the world as it really is. To those in power, this is a dangerous book.

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Photo: 19. harrypotter, Harry potter Series (Fair Use: Illustrative Purposes Only)