My Experience With Banned Books

Oct 3, 2008 by

“It’s not just the books under fire now that worry me. It is the books that will never be written. The books that will never be read. And all due to the fear of censorship. As always, young readers will be the real losers.” — Judy Blume

I was tagged by Ciaralira to post the banned books I have read from the ALA’a list of 100 most frequently challenged books from 1990-2000. But before I show my list, I wanted to share a personal story where I was almost censored in my reading.

I consider myself to be very lucky, because when I was growing up, my parents encouraged me to read regardless of the book I would pick, and they never censored my reading material. I have to admit that I had the habit of picking up some of the most interesting read by the age of sixteen. I had moved on from Nancy Drew and the Babysitters Club to such authors like Stephen King, Beatrice Small and VC Andrews. Everyone in my high school knew me as the girl who would always have a nose in a book, even though the majority of the books I had were considered those naughty reads and smut, otherwise known as romance novels.

My enjoyment of romance novels sent me to the principal office one day. By accident, I had left one of those naughty novels of mine in the lunch room. It was found by a teacher and they asked who it belonged to. Because of my reputation, most of the students knew it was mine. Keeping in mind I went to a very small all girls’ Catholic high school with under one-hundred students. The teacher glanced through the pages, and I what I can only assume, was shocked by what I was reading. She went to the principal. where they marked certain passages in the book that were of a sexual nature. I was soon called into the principal’s office, as if I had done something really horrible. I can still remember that feeling as my heart began to beat in my chest and the sweat appeared on my forehead as I walked down the hall. The principal made me read those sex passages out loud and accused me of advising my fellow students, that reading such a book like this is a good sex manual and a way to have really great sex with their boyfriends. At this time I never had a boyfriend, hell, never even kissed a boy or had sex. But because of my reading material, in the principal’s eyes, who also happened to be a nun, I was considered to be a whore. That was what I felt like at the time. I was told not to bring this material into the school and I should stop reading all books like this all together.

I left her office feeling dirty and ashamed. And the funny thing was, I was always first to read every book assigned in my classes and would go out of my way to ask my teachers for other book recommendations. I was so scared that my mother would find out and punish me, and make me stop reading the books I had come to love. She taught at the grammar school next door and would find out sooner or later. Rather than waiting for someone else to tell her what their whore of a daughter had done, I told her myself. My mother laughed. She even asked to see the book I was “caught” reading. She handed it back to me and we left it at that. She didn’t tell me to stop reading or that I wasn’t allowed to bring those types of books into our home.

The next day, my mother went to the principal and gave her a piece of her mind. How dare she tell her daughter what she could or couldn’t read! How could an educator tell a student not to read? After their meeting, everything was resolved. I still bought other books with me to read outside of my book assignments and after that I was never told that I couldn’t.

Book censorship, especially for children and teens, can be so damaging. Luckily, I had a person like my mother who I could go to about the reading material I would read. If there was something I was reading she was concerned with, we would sit down and talk and have a discussion. My experience in high school was over fifteen years ago and has shaped me into the reader that I am today. Imagine if I decided to stop reading the books I enjoyed just because someone had a different opinion than I did? She only saw what she wanted to see and that is so very sad. Because over a thousand books later, I have found fulfillment in so many ways. I have stretched my mind and imagination to limits I never though possible and grown in confidence.

And if another day comes that someone tells me what I can or cannot read, that is the day I shove a book up their ass.

Here are the top 100 most challenged books. The ones in bold red are the ones I have read. And the funny thing is, the majority of these I had read were during my teen years:

1. Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz

2. Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite

3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

4. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

7. Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling

8. Forever by Judy Blume

9. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

10. Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

11. Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman

12. My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

13. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

14. The Giver by Lois Lowry

15. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris

16. Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine

17. A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck

18. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

19. Sex by Madonna

20. Earth’s Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel

21. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson

22. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

23. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

24. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers

25. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak

26. The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard

27. The Witches by Roald Dahl

28. The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein

29. Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry

30. The Goats by Brock Cole

31. Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane

32. Blubber by Judy Blume

33. Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan

34. Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam

35. We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier

36. Final Exit by Derek Humphry

37. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

38. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

39. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

40. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras

41. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

42. Beloved by Toni Morrison

43. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

44. The Pigman by Paul Zindel

45. Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard

46. Deenie by Judy Blume

47. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

48. Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden

49. The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar

50. Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz

51. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein

52. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

53. Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)

54. Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole

55. Cujo by Stephen King

56. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

57. The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell

58. Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy

59. Ordinary People by Judith Guest

60. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

61. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras

62. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

63. Crazy Lady by Jane Conly

64. Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher

65. Fade by Robert Cormier

66. Guess What? by Mem Fox

67. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende

68. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney

69. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

70. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

71. Native Son by Richard Wright

72. Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies by Nancy Friday

73. Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen

74. Jack by A.M. Homes

75. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya

76. Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle

77. Carrie by Stephen King

78. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume

79. On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer

80. Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge

81. Family Secrets by Norma Klein

82. Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole

83. The Dead Zone by Stephen King

84. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

85. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

86. Always Running by Luis Rodriguez

87. Private Parts by Howard Stern

88. Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford

89. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene

90. Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman

91. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

92. Running Loose by Chris Crutcher

93. Sex Education by Jenny Davis

94. The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene

95. Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy

96. How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell

97. View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts

98. The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

99. The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney

100. Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier


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  1. I am very sorry you had to face such a traumatic experience, Katie, but boy o boy, your mom rocks large!

  2. Your mom is awesome! 😀 My parents would disown me if they knew what I like to read. LOL

    The Alice series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. Seriously? Why? Because it’s about a girl getting breasts and starting her period?


  3. I noticed a lot of books on the list are geared for children and teens which deal with body issues and sex. Funny huh?
    My mom gave me my very first Harlequins and though they were tame because the covers were like that. She created a monster! LOL

  4. Good for your Mamma, KB! Well done her, sticking up for you!

    I thought this exercise was wonderful, and I was appalled at the list. I simply adore Shel Silverstein and was completely furious to see his book on the list. And I spent some of my formative years with Judy Blue and Madeline L’Engle. It’s shocking what’s on this list!

  5. And if another day comes that someone tells me what I can or cannot read, that is the day I shove a book up their ass.


  6. Good for your mom. Weren’t you so proud of her? I hate that that had to happen to you but the situation didn’t influence your parents at all and I love that.

    And ditto what Christine said!

  7. Good for your Mom and good for you!
    What Christine and Tracy said, but let me add “and I’ll help!” 😀

  8. What a great story. I love that.

  9. Kate, your old principal sounds like a complete jerk! Go Kate’s mom for putting that nasty, vindictive bat in her place! Really–how DARE she make you feel so embarrased? Grrrr.

    You go on reading what you want to read, sister 😉

  10. Good for your mom. Noone had better ever tell my boys what they can and can’t read.

    As for this list I’d like to know who they heck these people are that say that these books are banned. Most of my favorite books as a pre-teen and early teen-ager are on there. Not to mention some of the greatest works of fiction to come out of this country.

  11. Karen W.

    I, too, had a mom who never censored what I read. She signed a release so I could have an adult library card when I was about 11 (I had already read everything in the children’s section two or three times!), and she just said I could talk to her about anything I read, if I wanted to. Let’s hear it for warrior moms and great books!

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