Banned Books Week is not a new invention. Launched in 1982 as a response to a surge of challenges to titles in libraries, schools, and bookshops – Banned Books Week has developed into an annual event to educate students and celebrate our freedom to read. I can’t list out all the books that are challenged or banned on my blog (it’d take too long), but you can check out the top 10 books from 2001-2013 here.
Without further ado, here are my Top 5 Banned Books containing both single books and series.
#5 – The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
Reasons for challenges: Religious Overtones and unsuited for age group.
Taken as part of the highly popular Dystopian future setting, The Hunger Games focuses on the story of Katniss Everdeen, a young woman in a desolate version of what once was America, renamed Panem. Throughout the series, the reader’s swept along with some of Katniss’s very questionable choices, challenges of what a Utopian society looks like from the lower levels of society, and presents the idea of children killing children. It’s a story of growth and how happy endings aren’t always easy, definitely a good read.
#4 The Giver by Lois Lowry
Reason for challenge: violent and sexual scenes, infanticide, euthanasia, and “sexual awakening.”
Perhaps one of the most well known Utopian/Dystopian novels around, The Giver introduces readers to the world where everything is ‘the same’. There’s no colours, no music, everything is regulated by the government. At the age of twelve you’re given your life assignment and set to train for it, the very young and very old are ‘sent elsewhere’ to spare the needs of the community. It’s not a very happy place, but emotions aren’t exactly there to know any different. It’s a challenging book, making the readers question everything about the books and one of perhaps the most influential things I read from the time I was in middle school onward.
#3 His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman
Reasons: political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, and violence
The world where the His Dark Materials trilogy takes place is a parallel world to our own, though with the key addition of Dæmons – a physical form of one’s conscience. Originally Published as Northern Lights in Europe, the first book introduces readers to Lyra, a rebellious child left in the care of scholars while her parents go gallivanting around on their own thing. Mostly wild, Lyra seems to have a knack for getting herself into trouble. The series gets darker as it goes along, pulling in elements from this world and that, but don’t let that stop you from reading it. This series is one of my favorites, set up as a fantasy world and I’ll admit, I’ve always wondered what form my dæmon would have settled on.
#2 Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Reasons: Occultism/Satanism, offensive language, disrespect to adults, violence, and ‘intense fantasy’
A fantastic tale of childhood imagination, the Bridge to Terabithia focuses on the friendship of Jess Aarons and Leslie Burke, two children who are a little off the beaten path of life. They create a vivid fantasy life outside of school to deal with many of their childhood fears and issues. However when a tragedy strikes, make sure you have tissues to deal with the fall out of things that happen. I love this book, and yes, it does make me cry every time I read it.
#1 Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
Reasons: Occultism, Witchcraft, Violence, Anti-Family, Satanism
The story that built a generation, and yes I’m very much part of that generation. Undoubtedly one of the biggest hits in the past 30 years, Harry Potter is the incredibly coming of age story of a boy who comes from a impossible family life to becoming a man of his own making. Captivated in seven books and several not quite direct spin-offs, Harry Potter teaches the meaning of friendship, shows hardship, and even gives a bit of a historical lesson (if one squints and tries to read more in the lines). Definitely one of my favorite series to reread over and over.