Throughout the ages there have been books that pushed the boundaries of what is tasteful or acceptable. In many cases these books were censored or even outright banned. While it is no surprise that books with harmful or racial content fell foul of the censors, sometimes the reasons for banning are downright puzzling. Here are just six books that ended up being banned for really silly reasons.
Reason for ban: Talking animals
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is about a young girl who falls down a rabbit hole only to discover a wondrous world populated by all kinds of bizarre characters. However, as innocent as this children’s book sounds, there has been calls to ban it numerous times. The most popular reason for trying to get the book banned was that it allegedly featured references to drug use, but in China it was banned for a different reason altogether. The reason was the fact that the book had speaking animals, which according to one Chinese governor, was disastrous as it puts animals and humans on the same level.
Reason for ban: Alcohol
One might think that Little Red Riding Hood, the cautionary tale written by the brothers Grimm would be banned because of the wolf devouring the grandmother, but this is not the case. While there has been attempts by parents or teachers to ban the book because they felt the wolf was too scary, no actions were ever taken. However, one version of the book did end up being banned for depicting a bottle of wine in the basket that little red riding hood is taking to her grandmother. Fortunately the ban only took place in a few school districts and has since been reversed.
Reason for ban: A spider dies
In this classic tale by author E.B White, Wilbur is a shy pig who befriends a spider called Charlotte who is busy spinning a web in his stall. It all sounds very innocent, but parents of one school district in Kansas disagreed due to the fact that the book featured talking animals. They considered this to be unnatural and blasphemous as humans are the highest level of God’s creation. They also took offense at the fact that the spider dies, which they considered to be inappropriate for a children’s book. This wasn’t the first time that Charlotte’s Web caused controversy as it was also banned at a school in England because the head teacher thought that the book might be offensive to Muslim students.
Reason for ban: Encourages disobedience
A Light in the Attic is a collection of poems and drawings by American author Shel Silverstein. It is filled with whimsical poetry about a variety of topics, but some parents feel that his work crossed the line. This caused the book to be banned in at least one elementary school due to their belief that it contained poems featuring suicide and cannibalism. Anyone familiar with the poems “Little Abigail and the Beautiful Pony” as well as “Ladies First” will know how silly this is. However, even weirder is the fact that the book was banned by certain schools in Florida because they considered the book to encourage disobedience in children with poems such as “How Not To Have to Dry The Dishes.”
Reason for ban: Adulteress not punished enough
Hester Prynne, one of the characters in The Scarlet Letter, is forced to wear the letter “A” and ostracized by her community due to an illicit affair that results in her becoming pregnant. Unfortunately, many readers felt that this punishment was way too lenient for an adulteress and that the author was much too sympathetic. Even more unbelievable is the fact that the parents of at least one school district tried to have it banned during the seventies for being “pornographic and obscene.” Considering the fact that the book featured absolutely no sex scenes, this was maybe a bit of a stretch.
Reason for ban: Obscene words
It might sound like a joke, but a few schools in the Southern Californian school district have banned the Merriam Webster’s dictionary from classrooms. The reason for the ban is very simple, they feel that the definition in the dictionary for “oral sex” was much too graphic. It doesn’t end there either as one of their spokeswomen also stated that they will be looking through the dictionary for other definitions that are of a graphic nature.