“Didn’t somebody try to ban that book?”
Two moms at Seattle neighborhood library chat as their kids pick summer reading books.
A boy with a fresh buzz haircut, who looks to be about eight years old, hands “Captain Underpants and the Revolting Revenge of the Radioactive Robo‑Boxers” to his mom. She looks at it quizzically then adds to a stack of several books for checkout.
The Captain Underpants series, which revolves around the adventures of a couple of fourth graders, made 2013’s “most challenged or banned” book list.
The reason that series is most often challenged is for “offensive language” and being unsuited for a young age group, according to the American Library Association,
While the “Underpants” series isn’t quite a classic work of literature, many well-known books have been pulled from libraries in the United States over the years. Here are five that might surprise you:
A 50th anniversary edition of “Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank was banned in a Virginia town due to “sexual content and homosexual themes.” In May of this year a Michigan mom challenged the book because of “pornographic tendencies.”
A couple of Dr. Seuss books have been deemed as inappropriate for kids. “Green Eggs and Ham” was banned briefly in California in the early 90s when it was considered to involve a homosexual seduction plot. A California school district also pulled “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss because of content that it believed made the forest industry appear criminal.
An environmental issue also doomed a Shel Silverstein classic, “The Giving Tree” in Colorado a couple of decades ago because several schools again thought the content “criminalized” the forest industry.
“James and the Giant Peach” by Roald Dahl was banned from a Texas elementary school library because it included the word “ass.”
One of the many versions of “Where’s Waldo?” by Martin Handford was pulled because a topless sunbather appeared on a beach page. When someone finally found her, the page was altered, reprinted and released.
The most significant, recent book challenges in the Seattle area came when a mom and daughter objected to a book on Nathan Hale High School’s language arts curriculum – Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.”
“I was outraged when I read through the book. I had to keep putting it down because it was so hurtful,” parent Sarah Sense-Wilson told me when I interviewed her about that controversy in 2010. “It was traumatizing to read how Indian people were being depicted.”
The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom says each year it receives about 500 formal, written complaints requesting that a book or other material be restricted or removed.
By LINDA THOMAS