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Banned Books at the Swisher Library

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Logo for Banned Books and Films collection on Kanopy

About Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week was started by the American Library Association's (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom in the 1980s. Banned Books Week invites readers of all types to unite and celebrate the freedom to read, examine past and present attempts to challenge or ban books, and to draw "national attention to the harms of censorship." The Swisher Library is proud to celebrate Banned Books Week with other libraries, schools, and booklovers around the country. 

The Swisher Library is celebrating Banned Books Week for the entire month of October.

"Sharing stories important to us means sharing a part of ourselves. Books reach across boundaries and build connections between readers. Censorship, on the other hand, creates barriers. Banned Books Week is both a reminder of the unifying power of stories and the divisiveness of censorship, and a call to action for readers across the country to push back against censorship attempts in their communities." - American Library Association

Banned and Challenged Books Available at Swisher Library

Cover Art for Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Benjamin Alire Sáenz (author)
Cover Art for Beloved, Toni Morrison (author)
Cover Art for Apple : skin to the core : a memoir in words and pictures, Eric Gansworth (author)
Cover Art for Flamer, Mike Curato (author)
Cover Art for The 1619 Project, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Caitlin Roper, Ilena Silverman, and Jake Silverstein (editors)
Cover Art for Asking for It, Louise O'Neill (author)
Cover Art for 1984, George Orwell (author)
Cover Art for King and the Dragonflies, Kacen Callender (author)
Cover Art for Long Way Down, Jason Reynolds (author)
Cover Art for Looking for Alaska, John Green (author)
Cover Art for Last Night at the Telegraph Club, Melinda Ho (Author)
Cover Art for A Separate Peace, John Knowles (author)
Cover Art for Finding Junie Kim, Ellen Oh (author)
Cover Art for Monster, Walter Dean Meyers (author)
Cover Art for The Arabic Quilt, Aya Khalil (author)
Cover Art for The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton (author)
Cover Art for The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie (author)
Cover Art for Speak, Laurie Halse Andersen (author)
Cover Art for Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison (author)
Cover Art for The Magic Fish, Trung Le Nguyen (author)
Cover Art for The Girls I've Been, Tess Sharpe (author)
Cover Art for The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald (author)
Cover Art for The Face on the Milk Carton, Caroline B. Cooney (author)
Cover Art for The Golden Compass, Philip Pullman (author)
Cover Art for The Giver, Lois Lowry (author)
Cover Art for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie (author)
Cover Art for We Are the Ants, Shaun David Hutchinson (author)
Cover Art for The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins (author)
Cover Art for The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien (author)
Cover Art for The Color Purple, Alice Walker (author)
Cover Art for The Chocolate War, Robert Cormier (author)
Cover Art for To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee (author)

Banned and Challenged Books in the Swisher Library Collection Making Waves

Cover Art for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon (author)

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon was among the most frequently challenged books in 2015, according to the American Library Association (ALA). In Pennsylvania, the book was ultimately retained after a school district's board of directors reviewed several complaints about language content, character depictions, and material offending Christian readers. One board member who did not recommend retention of the book described the book's “vulgarity and religious blasphemies” as her reason for objecting. 

Read about the attempt to ban the book.

Cover Art for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer (author)

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer was pulled from the curriculum of a high school in Illinois after parental complaints about sexual content were filed. The principal reviewing the complaints was reported to have stated : "Parents should have the right to determine what their students are exposed to in the classrooms."

Read about how this book was removed from the Illinois high school's curriculum.

Cover Art for The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas (author)

The Hate U Give

After a school board in Illinois banned The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas from being read in a high school English class, a parent and part-time teacher organized an online petition titled "Stop the Book Ban" and was reported to have stated that she believed the ban was not about inappropriate language, but as "a cover for their real fears that [the book is] racially sensitive". 

Read about how this book was challenged in the school district in Illinois.

Covert art for I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou (author)

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

According to the ALA's Intellectual Freedom Blog, "In 1983, four members of the Alabama State Textbook Committee called for the rejection of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, claiming the work preaches 'bitterness and hatred toward white people and encourages deviant behavior because of references to lesbianism, premarital sex and profanity.'" Speaking of the many and frequent challenges to her work, Angelou once remarked, “Many times I’ve been called the most banned. And many times my books are banned by people who never read two sentences. I feel sorry for the young person who never gets to read.”

Read about the controversy this book received in 1983 and thoughts from Maya Angelou on the banning of her books.

Cover Art for Two Boys Kissing, David Levithan (author)

Two Boys Kissing

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan has been challenged several times - it made the ALA's lists for most frequently challenged books in 2018, 2016, and 2015. Most often those challenges came from parents who cited the book's cover (which is a photograph of two boys kissing) as a violation of public display of affection rules. In response to the controversy, the author stated: “Even for the kids who don’t feel comfortable taking it out of the library or buying it in the bookstore yet, they know it’s there. They know they are represented. If you see that book in your library or in your bookstore or at your friend’s house you know that there is part of you that belongs there, and is accepted. There is such power in that."

Read about the censorship attempts on this book.

Covert art for Brave New World, Aldus Huxley (author)

Brave New World

According to the ALA, Brave New World by Aldus Huxley was "removed from classrooms in Miller, MO (1980), because it makes promiscuous sex 'look like fun'" and was challenged in a California school district in 1993 because the "characters' sexual behavior directly opposed the health curriculum, which taught sexual abstinence until marriage."

Read more about classics that have been banned and challenged.

Cover art for Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi (author)


The graphic novel, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi was challenged by a parent of a student in Illinois due to "depictions of torture" and gruesome imagery. The parent "also questioned why a book about Muslims was assigned on September 11". The parent was reported to have stated "If my son had drawn a picture like that at school, he would have been expelled" and "[w]ould we want our children to be re-creating some of these things at school?", according to a local news outlet.

Read about how the school board denied removing this book.

Cover art for Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck (author)

Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is one of the most challenged book on the ALA's Challenged Classics List. The book, first published in 1937, has been challenged for profane language, sexual content, violence, using the name of God "in vain" and the name of Jesus "lightly", for not "represent[ing] traditional values" and using "derogatory" depictions of women, people with disabilities, and people of color. 

Read more about classics that have been banned and challenged.

Cover art for Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut (author)


According to the ALA, Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut is among the most challenged classic American books. Among those many challenges was an incident surrounding a Kentucky high school in 1985 where the book was said to be inappropriate due to "foul language, a section depicting a picture of an act of bestiality, a reference to 'Magic Fingers' attached to the protagonist's bed to help him sleep, and the sentence: 'The gun made a ripping sound like the opening of the fly of God Almighty."'

Read more about classics that have been banned and challenged.

Cover art for The House of the Spirits, Isabel Allende (author)

The House of the Spirits

After the book, The House of the Spirts by Isabel Allende was challenged in a North Carolina school district, the author wrote an open letter to the county's board of education. She started the letter, "I find myself in the unusual and awkward position of having to 'defend' my novel . . . that risks being banned from a high school in Boone, North Carolina. Banning of books is a common practice in police states, like Cuba or North Korea, and by religious fundamentalist groups like the Taliban, but I did not expect it in our democracy. No student is forced to read the book." The book was ultimately retained by the school district. 

Read more about the author's defense of this book