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20 Books We Bet You Never Knew Were Banned

They were taken off the shelves for the craziest reasons.


Charlotte’s Web

The unlikely friendship between a pig and spider sparked a much bigger controversy among Kansas parents in 1952. They had Charlotte's Web banned because talking animals went against their religious beliefs, arguing humans are "the only creatures that can communicate vocally. Showing lower life forms with human abilities is sacrilegious and disrespectful to God." We wonder what they’d think about the Cat in the Hat and Mickey Mouse and the three little bears and …

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The Grapes of Wrath

John Steinbeck’s work of fiction was based on the reality of the Dust Bowl that left migrants homeless and in search of work. In Kern County, California, where the protagonists land, the real-life county board of supervisors didn’t appreciate the author’s portrayal of how locals didn’t help migrants. A 1939 vote removed The Grapes of Wrath from the area’s schools and libraries. If you aren't a fan either, check out these 9 new books that are better than the classics.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

Despite being so beloved, Harper Lee’s novel is still the fourth most-challenged or banned classic book. Advocates of banning it argue its issues with racism and sexuality aren’t suitable for young readers. These are the high school English class books everyone should read again.

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Where's Waldo?

The Where's Waldo? books barely have any words, so on what grounds could they possibly be banned? While readers were searching for Waldo after the book was originally published in 1987, they spotted something: a partially topless woman sunbathing in a beach scene. People complained, and the book found itself among the top 100 most banned books in America between 1990 and 2000. More recently, Where’s Waldo? Santa Spectacular was banned in Texas prisons because it contained stickers.

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Black Beauty

Anna Sewell's classic tale of a majestic English horse was banned for a troubling reason. During the apartheid in South Africa, the white National Party mistakenly thought the book was about a black woman and deemed it unfit for the public. Check out more bizarre things that have been banned around the world.

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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

This whimsical novel by Lewis Carroll has been adapted numerous times in literature, on stage, and on screen, but it's not beloved worldwide. In 1931, the governor of China's Hunan province banned the book because of the talking animals. He believed it was "disastrous to put animals and human beings on the same level" in that way.

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The Harry Potter series

Despite their widespread popularity, the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling have been challenged by Christian religious leaders and groups, with some even calling them "satanic." Schools across the country have banned them for their themes of magic and sorcery, as well as their portrayals of death and evil. Don't miss the 15 movies you never knew were banned in America.

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Twelfth Night

The Bard is not immune from censorship either. Twelfth Night was banned by a school district in Merrimack, New Hampshire, in 1996 because of its mentions of cross-dressing and same-sex romance. In the play, a woman disguises herself as a male page and falls in love with her master. Here are more of the most controversial books of all time.

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Brothers Grimm fairy tales

You may know that many Disney movies are more kid-friendly, light-hearted versions of the surprisingly dark fairy tales written by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm in the 1800s, and these original stories have had their fair share of controversy. In 1994, The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm was banned in certain classrooms in the Kyrene Elementary School District in Arizona for "excessive violence, negative portrayals of female characters, and anti-Semitic references." Just a couple years earlier, two self-proclaimed witches called for Hansel and Gretel to be banned from schools, saying it portrays witches in a negative light.

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Little Red Riding Hood

The controversy around this fairy tale doesn't stem from the Brothers Grimm original so much as the way it was adapted. A school district in Culver City, California, banned the 1983 illustrated version of Little Red Riding Hood by Trina Schart Hyman because it was seen as promoting alcoholism. The cover shows Red carrying a bottle of wine in her basket, and later in the book, her grandma drinks half of the bottle "with a red nose." Don't miss these 50 things you won't believe are banned across the 50 states.

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