30 Banned Children's Books You Should Read Today

New Kid book signing with author Jerry Craft. Photo by Ally Noel for Mommy Poppins
New Kid book signing with author Jerry Craft. Photo by Ally Noel for Mommy Poppins
2/1/24 - By Meghan Rose

Books are getting banned at an alarming rate, especially children's books. When you think banned, you think there's got to be something controversial, mature, or upsetting in the books. But many of these books are classics that are beloved by generations of kids.

While kids might want to ban bedtime, bathtime, or broccoli, we're guessing that books like Charlotte's Web and Captain Underpants are things kids would rather celebrate than ban. We've compiled a list of frequently banned children's books that kids of all ages adore. So go ahead, be a rebel. Read a banned book. Books are magic, and knowledge is power.

For more of our favorite books that expand minds, thoughts, and hearts, check out our Best Kids' Books Guide to Great Reads, which includes incredible Kids' Books About Racism, Best LGBTQ Books for Kids, and more great book recommendations.


Most Frequently Banned Children's Books

When you think about books that people try to ban in schools and libraries across the country, you probably think there's a reason behind it, even if you disagree with the reason. Maybe you think of a controversial book about a topic that inspires political debate. But when you see the list of books that are frequently banned, you discover that many are classics that generations of kids have grown up reading, like Hop on Pop or The Giving Tree.

Why Reading Banned Books is Important

Even if you disagree with the ideas in a book, banning something is a surefire way to make kids want to read it! So instead of making something taboo, talk it through! Read through these books togther, and talk about why a book was banned, if your kids agree with the thoughts in a book, and what else these books make them think about.

picture of the book Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner

Banned Children's Books You Should Read Today: Picture Books

1. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

While I had to stop reading this book to my kids for a while because it made me sob, I never saw it as sexist. Yet, that's why it was banned!

2. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Banned for being "too dark," this book is a Caldecott Medal-winner and one of the most highly acclaimed and best-loved children's books of all time.

3. Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss

Too violent! Kids should not jump on their parents, it's not safe.

4. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

Banned in several states, The Lorax has been called "anti-logging, "anti-business," and "having an agenda that brainwashes kids into believing capitalism is bad."

5. And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson

This picture book is the true story of two male penguins at the Central Park Zoo who were so determined to have a family that they tried to hatch a rock. A zookeeper gives them an abandoned egg to raise, together.

6. The Family Book by Todd Parr

While this book celebrates that not all families are the same, it has been banned by several school districts for the line, "some families have two moms or two dads."

7. It's a Book by Lane Smith

As an adult, this is one of my favorite picture books ever. I have my copy, my kids have theirs. This book was banned for bad language. The characters are a monkey, a mouse, and a jackass. That's it!

8. Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner

This book was challenged for depicting stereotypes of Mexican culture.

9. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.

This book was actually banned on accident, because the author is Bill Martin Jr, who got confused with Bill Martin, who wrote Ethical Marxism.

photo of the book I am Jazz by Jazz Jennings & Jessica Herthel

Banned Children's Books You Should Read Today: Early Readers

10. Charlotte's Web by E.B White

Talking animals that can communicate and act just like humans; this book is way too confusing for kids! The talking animals have also been called "unnatural" and "blasphemous." (Anyone seen a Disney movie?)

11. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

This belowed book of silly poems that teaches kids to love language has often been banned for profanity and themes of rebellion. One Wisconsin school district said it "promotes drug use, the occult, suicide, death, violence, disrespect for truth, disrespect for authority, and rebellion against parents.”

12. I am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings

This story of a transgender child is based on the real-life experience of Jazz Jennings, who is a spokesperson for transkids everywhere.

13. Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola

No surprise that a book whose title means "Grandma Witch" was banned for depicting witchcraft and magic in a positive light.

14. Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park

Did you know Junie was banned for being an "inappropriate role model" exhibiting mouthiness and bad grammar?

15. Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

These books that get reluctant readers devouring books and have spawned movies and TV shows are one of the 100 most banned and challenged books from the past decade.

covers of the books A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Banned Children's Books You Should Read Today: Middle Readers

16. The Witches by Roald Dahl

This book was on the ALA banned top 100 list for 1990-1999 because Dahl says that witches can only be women.

17. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

This classic has been banned over the years for various reasons, including graphic violence, mysticism, and gore. Ironically, it has also been banned by religious groups that condsidered it "paganistic" and it has been banned for being too religious for public schools!

18. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

Margaret worries about getting her period, developing breasts, and starting to wear bras. The book has been banned for her frank thoughts and worries, plus a "skepticism of organized religion."

19. The Giver by Lois Lowry

This Newberry Award winner has been on banned book lists since it was published in 1993. Reasons include violence, sexual references, and suicide.

20. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

My personal favorite book ever, I am perplexed that this Newbury winner has been banned both for being too religious and for being not religious enough. What would the Happy Medium say?

21. New Kid by Jerry Craft

Another Newbury winner, and the first Newbury winner that was a graphic novel, this story has been challenged for "teaching critical race theory."

22. Goosebumps by R.L. Stine

These massively popular books that have been made into several movies and TV series have been banned in school libraries for being too graphic and scary.

covers of the books The Hate U Give and Drama

Banned Children's Books You Should Read Today: YA

23. Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

This book had been challenged in the past decade several times for anatomical descriptions.

24. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

This book is among the US' most banned titles, being the most banned book in Georgia, and on the ALA's list of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2017, 2018, 2020, and 2021. The reason? The books depictions of racism and anti-police views.

25. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This book has also been challenged and banned thorughout the years for depictions of racism and language.

26. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

This book has been banned from Texas to NH for reasons including “anti-ethnic, anti-family, insensitivity, offensive language, occult/satanic, and violence.”

27. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

This classic book which has been turned into a couple of movies and a musical (all of them award-winning!), has been banned since it was published for its sexual content and portrayals of abuse and domestic violence.

28. Drama by Raina Telgemeier

This graphic novel, which is beloved by kids, has at times been banned and challenged for sexually explicit material, its inclusion of LGBT characters, profanity, mature themes, and, drug use.

29. Maus by  Art Spiegelman

The groundbreaking, Pulitzer Prize-winning bestselling graphic novel about the Holocaust has been banned for nudity, profanity, and graphic violence.

30. Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe

Drumroll please... this is the most frequently banned book of the past few years. This is the autobiographical graphic novel is the story of the author coming out as nonbinary.

All images courtesy of Amazon, where each book can be purchased in the format of your choice.

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