Each fall, we celebrate the books that have been banned or challenged, and remember why it’s important to read banned books. These books have been challenged for a number of reasons, but each book has so much more to it than just the reason that it’s banned. Many banned books deal with real issues, and in this case, issues that teenagers are faced with on a daily basis. So why shy away from these topics when authors have the ability to discuss them, to enlighten readers, to help readers cope? That’s just what these 10 banned books do.
1. Looking for Alaska by John Green
Why it’s banned: Take one page of sexually explicit content, and throw in a little offensive language, and you have the most challenged book of 2015.
Why you should read it anyway: Who better to tell you than John Green himself.
2. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Why it’s banned: This book was banned for references to suicide, sex, drugs, and alcohol.
Why you should read it anyway: Thirteen Reasons Why not only discusses real issues that teenagers are faced with, but it has helped a great number of teenagers cope with depression. Over the years, thousands of teenagers have expressed what this book has meant to them.
3. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
Why it’s banned: Wintergirls has been said to be like a “guide” for teens who want to starve themselves, and possibly triggering for those who have suffered.
Why you should read it anyway: The book shows how horrifying and destructive eating disorders can be, and the way anorexia and bulimia are portrayed makes it much more of a cautionary tale than a guide.
Why it’s banned: This book was banned for being “too intense,” namely for content including offensive language, sex, alcohol, and eating disorders.
Why you should read it anyway: High school is intense. Dessen explores a number of the subjects that are typical in the life of a teenager.
5. When It Happens by Susane Colasanti
Why it’s banned: When it Happens was challenged for being overtly sexual in content.
Why you should read it anyway: One aspect of the book cannot represent the entire read, and while there is sexual content, it is at its core a lighthearted teenage romance.
6. Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going
Why it’s banned: This book was challenged for language, sexual references, and drug use.
Why you should read it anyway: Fat Kid Rules the World is a story of music, friendship, and self-discovery.
7. Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson
Why it’s banned: Twisted was banned because its content included sex, child abuse, suicide, and drug abuse.
Why you should read it anyway: The novel is gritty and real. Anderson explores identity, while confronting many of the concerns of teenagers.
8. Hold Still by Nina LaCour
Why it’s banned: Hold Still is about a girl coping with her friend’s suicide, and also includes language and sex.
Why you should read it anyway: LaCour deals with a heavy topic, but does so gracefully, and in a way that leaves readers feeling hopeful.
9. Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
Why it’s banned: This book was challenged for insensitivity, racism, and offensive language.
Why you should read it anyway: Taylor aptly portrays the struggle of a black American family in Mississippi during the Depression.
10. The Witches by Roald Dahl
Why it’s banned: The Witches is one of the top 25 banned children’s books of all time, for its dealing in witchcraft. It was even called “Satanic.”
Why you should read it anyway: Many of Dahl’s books were banned or challenged, while at the same time being some of the most celebrated children’s books of all time.