Among the many things that are banned, did you ever think that children’s books would make the list? Whether it’s a school district or concerned parent groups, there’s a long history of challenging kids books and ultimately, putting some of them on the banned children’s books list. Even as recently as adding the “Girls Who Code” series to the growing list, banned children’s books encompasses all genres.

If you’re thinking that it’s just a few fiction or non-fiction books, well, picture books are in the running as well. From racial themes to artsy depictions of “adult” themes, these stories bother some for one reason or another. But, there is so much more to them than that. These stories contain some of the most powerful, life-changing lessons. From learning how to cope with loss to understanding the privilege of learning and teaching acceptance in all its forms.

12 challenged and banned children’s books

in the kitchen book

In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak

This story is often challenged because it features a child’s naked bottom. But, this wildly imaginative and fantastical story is a regular top pick for teacher’s because it creates a safe space for imagination.

Ages: preschool-2

tango makes three book

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

This board book tackles the sensitive question, what makes a family? Based on a true story about two male penguins who adopt an egg, this book is often challenged because of it’s LGBTQ themes.

Ages: 2-5

the giving tree

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

This classic favorite was challenged for it’s negative views of the foresting agency and it was even banned from a public library in Colorado for promoting “sexist” themes.

Ages: 1-8

capt underpants book

The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

Anyone who’s had a reluctant reader knows the value of this series and understands that it can work some serious magic. But, there are those who say it promotes use of offensive language and violence.

Ages: 7-10

harriet the spy book

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

Some schools banned this spunky pick because it is, “a bad example for children.” Others have challenged it because they say it teaches, “children to lie, spy, talk back, and curse.” But, Harriet’s beloved antics, fierce attitude and aptitude for investigation all add to her charm.

Ages: 8-12

wizard of oz book

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Chicago’s public libraries banned this one because, “ungodly” influence “for depicting women in strong leadership roles.” If that’s not a great reason all on its own for adding this to your child’s bookshelf, then I don’t know what is.

Ages: 9-12

bridge to terabithia book

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Some Pennsylvania schools banned this book because they thought the imaginative world the characters create would confuse readers in real life. It’s also been banned for using, “Lord.” But, this Newberry-medal winning novel teaches kids about friendship and how to deal with loss.

Ages: 4-7

light in the attic book

A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein

This books is often challenged because schools say it encourages bad behavior. Young readers can read through these poems over and over again to help with their literacy fluency.

Ages: 2-5

roll of thunder book

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

This is one of those books that helps begin tough (but necessary) conversations about history and race. It’s often challenged for offensive language.

Ages: 6-9

the giver book

The Giver

This dystopian book introduces readers to thinking about philosophical issues and giving thought to what makes a good society. Parents often challenge it for its references to euthanasia, suicide and sex.

Ages: 11 and up

charlotte's web book

Charlotte's Web by E. B. White

This book about the sweet and unlikely friendship between a spider and pig is a classic favorite. But there are those who believe talking animals to be disrespectful to God.

Ages: 8-11

the house on mango st

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

This coming-of-age book is banned in some schools for the same reasons that teachers like to assign it in others: the every day, social issues the characters face introduce thought-provoking content to readers.

Ages: 12 and up