Welcome to the Banned Books page of the Curriculum Lab library research guide!
I had many intriguing questions asked of me at the Read the Truth event on Wednesday, May 4, 2022, that I would like to address here.
Q: When were the books banned that were on display?
A: Many of the books were censored in the past. The link to the spreadsheet of the books in the display and when they were originally banned is located in the box above, labeled "Banned or Challenged Children's Books.
Q: If I teach a banned book, what kind of trouble will I be in?
A: That depends on many criteria, beginning with where you are teaching, how strong the administration and parent/teacher organizations are in the community, and the types of laws regarding educational curricula for the community. Speak with your peers, the school librarian, and school administrators before attempting to teach a book that has been challenged or banned in your community.
Q: Am I able to buy books that have been banned in the U.S.A.?
A: Yes, ironically books that are banned in certain communities often sell out faster than those that have not been banned. An example of this would be The Complete Maus, by Art Spiegelman in 2022. Most censorship of books occurs in public and school libraries, and not in the bookshop.
One curious exception to this is when a book is discontinued, such as Dr. Seuss’s If I Ran the Zoo. Six of Theodore Geisel’s books were pulled from publication by the author, himself, because they contained racist and insensitive imagery, and the author wanted to preserve and protect his legacy. Another exception would be in foreign countries without the freedom of the press, such as China or Russia.
Q: Has Connecticut banned any books?
A: There have been a handful of challenges to book titles, but apparently there have not been any wholesale book bans in the state.
- The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison was challenged in Brookfield, CT in 1994 because of sex scenes, profanity and age-appropriateness.
- Ttyl, by Lauren Myracle, was challenged but retained in Norwalk, CT in 2004 for its “foul language, sexual content, and questionable sexual behavior” and possibly for the fact that the grammar is totally incorrect.
- Wizardology: The Book of the Secrets of Merlin, by Dugald Speer, was challenged in West Haven, CT in 2005 for concerns that the content exposed children to the occult.
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain was challenged in Manchester, CT in 1999 for its racially insensitive language throughout the book.
Q: Are there cycles within the collections of banned books? (i.e., Are there periods in which certain themes are banned or periods of heavy censoring vs. lighter censoring?)
A: This answer will require some research, so I don’t have a complete answer at this time. However, with literary themes occurring parallel to political themes, the most obvious answer would likely be that yes, there are cycles for book bans. The cycles would include book themes (e.g., LGBTQ-themed books have been on the rise in the United States), cycles of heavier and lighter censorship (depending upon the political polarization or external events resulting in more fear and anger within a community), and generational priorities (e.g., Goodnight Moon was not accessible in the New York Public Library because one of the librarians was an influencer at the time and did not believe in the progressive educational philosophy of Margaret Wise Brown.
I have listed some sources on this library guide page about information censorship for your perusal.