Banning books is generally controversial. Ultimately, it comes down to a question of censorship; is it better to allow freedom of speech or protect the public from the potential of harm? Unfortunately, this question is open to an incredible amount of bias. The answer really depends on who’s doing the asking! We have to ask ourselves just what the heck the banners were thinking when they put an end to these six weird and wonderful stories.
• “James and the Giant Peach,” by Roald Dahl: Dahl is categorically weird and wonderful in general, so it’s no surprise that his stories generate some raised eyebrows. This book was banned for containing references to alcohol and drugs because they drink peach wine.
• “Where’s Waldo” Books: A find-the-object book banned? It’s true, and not only because they inspire frustration and angst. Most schools banned these books after readers (searchers?) identified inappropriate images. These faux pas included at least one completely topless woman.
• Merriam-Webster Dictionaries: Yep, even ye old dictionary has been banned from some libraries on American soil. This one lost its right to be read because it contains sexual definitions (even if they’re matter-of-fact).
• “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See,” by Bill Martin Jr.: This charming and lovely children’s picture book wasn’t even banned on its own merits. Instead, it was a case of mistaken identity. The State Board of Education in Texas believed it was written by another author with the same name who wrote extensively on Marxism.
• “The Diary of A Young Girl” by Anne Frank: This book does cover an incredibly heartbreaking topic (WWII in Germany), but it also paints a very real picture of persecution. While most schools regard it as a valuable opportunity for learning, one Virginia school board banned it for being a “downer.” One has to wonder exactly how you write the story of a young Jewish girl hiding in Nazi Germany in any other way…
• “Bridge to Terabithia,” by Katherine Paterson: Death is no longer the taboo topic it once was; in fact, some shows (like 13 Reasons) focus on it entirely. But years ago, talking about death in an obvious way was considered incredibly damaging. This book was banned because the main character dies suddenly, partway through the book.