10 Banned Children’s Books That Should Be In Your Home Library

Tango Makes ThreeThis week, we’re celebrating Banned Books! You know, the ones that people complain to libraries about. The ones that concerned parents say are “too advanced” or not “age appropriate.” We’re celebrating these extremely important and often controversial books that lead young people to have insightful conversations about mature topics. Yes, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn may use language that many of us find repulsive, but it also gives incredible insight into the history or race relations in this country. Yes, Holden Caulfield in  Catcher in the Rye might spend most of the book trying to lose his virginity, but it’s also the story of a journey that speaks to teens on a very personal and real level.

These are the classic banned books. These are the ones that have been controversial and debated for years. We all know these books, and hopefully we’ve all read them. It would be super easy to give you a list of really amazing banned classics, and tell you that we should be celebrating these things. We should be applauding when kids pick them up, not trying to hide them away. I could definitely do that.

But instead, I think that this year we should concentrate on children’s books. That’s right. People don’t just get angry about teens reading content that seems more geared towards adults. People get plenty fired up about the picture books we show our littlest ones. They say things about the “impressionable youth.” They worry that we’re indoctrinating children with viewpoints before they’ve had time to figure out their own.

I say that kids need to hear about these opposing views. They need to see people and perspectives that are different than their’s if we ever expect them to come up with viewpoints at all. And sometimes, they just need to be able to laugh at a little potty humor! (Yes, people try to ban books because of crude jokes.)

This year for banned books week, let’s celebrate the children’s books that get challenged and questioned. Let’s support the books banned from the very youngest readers. Here are a few of my favorites, and why they should be in your home library right now!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Carmen-Finnigan/841528248 Carmen Finnigan

    If someone tried to ban that usually means it is worth reading.

  • Mick

    So do you read those scary stories to your daughter or do you censor them like you do with disney movies? Pot meet kettle.


    • mondomom


    • Jessie

      ^ So much this.

    • http://www.asilee.com Asilee


    • Kate

      Do you not understand how censorship works? Whether or not you actually read the books is irrelevant – what matters is that when censorship is in effect, someone else is imposing their values on you and your children. An equivalent analogy with the Disney movies would be if the theater edited out portions that had been complained about, then continued to show the film. When a person chooses to limit exposure to things, either their own or that of their children, that is living. When you do it for someone else, that’s censorship.

    • kathleen

      I think he is referring to a perceived degree of hypocrisy on the part of the author. Click the link in his post.

  • maureen

    A lot of these were favorites growing up – excited to share them with my daughter when she’s old enough for books.

  • http://twitter.com/SJerzGirl Wendy Wilkins

    I had a social worker who was investigating my daughters broken arm ask me, when she walked out in a diaper (not yet 3), “does she always show her body off to people?” I was like, WHAT? I said to her, um, she’s being a kid? Kids like being naked. Kids don’t think about their bodies the same as adults. (Like I should have been giving this instruction to a degreed social worker!) It isn’t just Wall Street that tries to sexualize our kids – it’s the very people who say they’re protecting them. They see evil in everything! BTW – my daughter is 26 and STILL likes to be naked when she’s home! LOL (No, not when people are here and Mom has to avert her eyes.)

    • Justme

      I don’t think we read the same article.

  • Crimson Wife

    Some of these books are clearly controversial (the ones dealing with “hot button” issues like a homosexual lifestyle) but others leave me scratching my head. Somebody actually objects to “Sylvester and the Magic Pebble”? Seriously???

  • Amy

    The Brothers Grimm fairytales aren’t banned just because they’re scary, it’s that they’re full of mutilation, sex and general gore. It’s one thing to read your kid a mildly scary Roald Dahl book, it’s not comparable to read them the Grimm tales.

  • AJ

    I personally love a lot of the original uncut fairy tales. My sister and I as kids took a special delight in telling our peers the “real”story of Snow White (evil queen is forced to dance in iron shoes on hot coals until she drops dead) and Cinderella (stepsisters cut off their toes and heels to fit the slipper and later have their eyes pecked out by birds.)
    I have no objections to a healthy amount of horror and/or violence in children’s tales. At the age of four, I watched the Malifacent turn into a terrifying dragon and get stabbed in the heart, and I also watched the death of Bambi’s mom (“Bambi” is now one of my favorite movies, and I believe a big reason why I was so into nature and animal conservation as a child). After all, many kids delight in dark and scary things (isn’t that the entire point of Halloween?).

    That being said, I will caution parents that Grimm’s fairy tales also contain some less known stories that read more like adult horror/tragedy and are probably NOT suitable for a lot of younger kids. I’m sure there are parents out there who are aware of the story of “Bluebeard”, but frankly, I consider that tale one of the tamer horror stories in this collection. Just for an example, “The Poor Boy in the Grave” is about a young orphan boy who is given to two foster parents who starve and beat him (there are several descriptions of him being unable to move for several days after a beating) until the young boy tries to commit suicide to avoid more abuse. He tries to drink poison (which were in reality disguised honey and wine) then stumbles drunk into a cemetery where he falls asleep and dies in an open grave. The End. And you thought “the Little Matchgirl” was depressing; At least she went to heaven in the end. The little boy here is not so lucky and his evil foster parents are only lightly punished for their deeds (Their house burns down and it is mentioned that they continued to live in poverty with their guilt. Justice served?)

    Another story, “The Jew Among the Thorns” is a racist story about a servant (the “hero” in this story who basically mugs a Jewish man on the road and manages to escape punishment). It’s written in a way that we’re actually supposed to root for the “good and honest servant”, because his reasoning is that “Jews are thieves who cheat people and they all deserve to be pre-emptively punished anyway”. Not a lesson I’d want to be taught to children. >:( In case you’re wondering, the Jewish man is hanged in the end for being a thief.

    My advice to parents is to read these stories ahead of time so they aren’t horribly surprised by some of these tales. Good doesn’t always triumph over evil. There are some where evil beats good, and where the “good” characters commit acts that are just as evil as the villains (“The Dog and and the Sparrow” comes to mind). These stories were, after all, written in a different time with a different mindset and values.

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