The Classic Children’s Books they Tried to Ban



It’s hard to imagine anyone would feel the need to ban any of these classic stories:

Most adults will have fond memories of reading of the adventures of Winnie the Pooh in the Hundred Acre Wood as a child, but few will realize that it was banned because the animals spoke.

The much-loved book by A.A. Milne is among several popular children’s books and a dictionary that have been banned in the U.S. over the years for being anti-Christian, too sexual or damaging to industry.

Important works of literature such as The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, praised for its insight into the impact of the Second World War on children, was banned by a Virginia school over the ‘sexual content and homosexual themes’ when the definitive edition was released in 2010.

Other schools tried to ban it from reading lists because it was too depressing and last month a Michigan mother complained about its ‘pornographic tendencies’ over passages where Anne describes going through puberty.

Alice in Wonderland came in for similar criticism, with it being shelved in New Hampshire in 1900 for alleged references to sexual fantasies and masturbation. It has also been seen as promoting drug use.

Two books – Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree and Dr Seuss’s The Lorax – were both criticized for damaging the foresting industry.

A Colorado library barred the Giving Tree for being sexist in 1988 and in 1989 a Californian school district banned The Lorax incase it put children off a career in the logging industry.

One of the most popular Dr Seuss books, Green Eggs and Ham, was not allowed in parts of California because of suggestions of ‘homosexual seduction’, according to Buzzfeed.

Another author who has made it to the banned list is Roald Dahl. James and the Giant Peach was not allowed in schools in 1999 because it contained the word ‘ass’ and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was shelved in a Colorado Library in 1988 over its ‘poor philosophy of life’.

Setting a bad example to children also led to Harriet the Spy and Bridge to Terabithia being struck off in 1983 and 1996 respectively.

Both were viewed as encouraging children to be disrespectful for children. Harriet the Spy was accused of teaching ‘children to lie, spy, talk back and curse,’ and Katherine Peterson’s novel Bridge to Terabithia was described as ‘an elaborate fantasy world that might lead to confusion’.

The realms of fantasy have been the downfall for other works of literature, especially in the Southern states, where classics such as Where the Wild Things Are was shelved in the 1960s for promoting the supernatural.

Likewise, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was considered ‘ungodly’ in Chicago and was criticized for depicting women in strong leadership roles.

The beloved story was also banned in 1957 by Detroit Library for having ‘no value for children today’.

For Winnie the Pooh and Charlotte’s Web, talking animals led to the books being silenced in Kansas. And while some places have claimed Winnie the Pooh alludes to Nazism, institutions in Turkey and the UK have banned the book because the character of Piglet could offend Muslims.

The Winnie the Pooh concerns even led to a 14-year-old girl in California being suspended from school for wearing Tigger socks after the school banned students from wearing clothes with the characters on, according to Banned Books.

Perhaps most surprising however, is that the book was banned for its extremist material in Russia, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In two cases of mistaken identity, the popular Where’s Waldo? book was banned in 1987 and later reprinted over claims that it showed a topless woman on a beach, though she was never found, and the author of Bill Martin Jr had his book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? barred by the Texas Board of Education after he was mistaken for a philosopher with the same name, who writes about ethical Marxism.

Finally, California schools had the last word when they banned the 10th edition of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary in 2010 because it included a definition for ‘oral sex’.


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One Response to “The Classic Children’s Books they Tried to Ban”

  1. Lynne Diligent Says:

    Most of these are ridiculous….I can see banning Anne Frank in elementary school, but it’s appropriate for Grade 9 and up.

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