Celebrating Banned Books Week: Kids

All of the wonderful books included on this list were either challenged or removed from libraries or classrooms. Some titles still remain restricted. Others have been reinstated. In some cases, there are other challenges or bans to titles that aren't listed here. They are all available at the Denver Public Library!

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Barnes, Derrick

Celebrates the magnificent feeling that comes from walking out of a barber shop with newly-cut hair.

According to Marshall University, "The Northampton (PA) Area School District school board unanimously voted to table a donation of dozens of books from The Conscious Kid, a non-profit organization focused on equity and promoting healthy racial identity development, after parents complained during their July 19th meeting." Some community members who fought the donation called the books "racist", "divisive", and "socialist", while others criticized The Conscious Kid organization. This was one of the books included in that donated.

The York Central School District (PA) also briefly banned Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut, along with a list of other books and resources focused on racial and ethnic diversity and inclusion in 2021. 

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L'Engle, Madeleine

Meg Murry and her friends become involved with unearthly strangers and a search for Meg's father, who has disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government.

According to the The Banned Books Project @Carnegie Mellon University, A Wrinkle in Time was "ranked #23 on the American Library Association’s (ALA) 100 most frequently challenged books from 1990-1999, and #90 on the ALA’s list from 2000-2009. These challenges focused mainly on the book’s blend of religion, the supernatural, and science, and has been criticized both for being too religious and for being not religious enough."

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Blume, Judy

Faced with the difficulties of growing up and choosing a religion, a twelve-year-old girl talks over her problems with her own private God.

This classic book and others by Blume have been banned in various places for religious and sexual content. Judy Bloom said of her own daughter's elementary school, "the male principal decided that the book was inappropriate because of the discussion of menstruation, never mind how many 5th and 6th graders already had their periods."

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Callender, Kacen

Born on Water Island in the Virgin Islands during a hurricane, which is considered bad luck, twelve-year-old Caroline falls in love with another girl--and together they set out in a hurricane to find Caroline's missing mother.

Among 27 other books, Hurricane Child was challenged by a group of parents and teachers in Loudoun County (VA) schools, who objected to books with LGBTQAI+ content. Some of the challenged books, including Hurricane Child, were moved to middle or high school libraries.

It was also included on a list of books pulled from school libraries for review in the North East Independent School District in Texas. Hurricane Child was relocated from elementary to middle school libraries.

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Celano, Marianne

After discussing the police shooting of a local Black man with their families, Emma and Josh know how to treat a new student who looks and speaks differently than his classmates. Includes an extensive Note to Parents and Caregivers that provides general guidance about addressing racism with children, child-friendly vocabulary definitions, conversation guides, and a link to additional online resources for parents and teachers.

This title has been challenged for “divisive language” and for perceived "anti-police" messages at various schools. In 2022 the superintendent of Papillion-La Vista (NE) Schools removed the book and read-aloud video from schools after a parent complained about this title.

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Craft, Jerry

Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade. As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds--and not really fitting into either one. 

New Kid has been challenged or removed from school classrooms or libraries at various districts in Pennsylvania and Texas for supposedly teaching critical race theory.

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Curtis, Christopher Paul

The ordinary interactions and everyday routines of the Watsons, an African American family living in Flint, Michigan, are drastically changed after they go to visit Grandma in Alabama in the summer of 1963.

Nebo (UT) School District  banned the book from middle school classes in 2001 because parents complained that it contained violence and swearing.

The title was also challenged in Stafford County, VA middle schools in 2002 because a parent was offended by some of the language. 


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Engle, Margarita

Follows a young Cuban girl in the 1930s as she strives to become a drummer, despite being continually reminded that only boys play the drums, and that there's never been a female drummer in Cuba. Includes note about Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, who inspired the story, and Anacaona, the all-girl dance band she formed with her sisters.

Drum Dream Girl was on the same list of books as Crown, that was briefly banned from the York Central (PA) School District in 2021. 

This was also on a list of books purchased by the Duval County (FL) Public Schools to add diverse and inclusive books to classroom libraries. The newly purchased books were subsequently removed from classrooms for review in 2022.



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Faruqi, Saadia

In this compilation of four separately published books, Pakistani American second grader Yasmin learns to cope with the small problems of school and home, while gaining confidence in her own skills and creative abilities.

The Yasmin series was on the previously mentioned York Central (PA) School District list

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Harris, Robie H.

Introduces human sexuality, describes the changes brought about by puberty, and discusses sexual abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS, pregnancy, and safe Internet practices. Two cartoon characters, a curious bird and a squeamish bee have, often humorous, questions of their own. 

This popular sex education book has faced many bans and challenges over it's sexual content from it's first publication in 1994 to today. In 2021 and 2022 alone it faced challenges in school districts in Arkansas, Texas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Wisconsin. 

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Jamieson, Victoria & Mohamed, Omar

Omar and his younger brother Hassan live in a refugee camp, and when an opportunity for Omar to get an education comes along, he must decide between going to school every day or caring for his nonverbal brother in this intimate and touching portrayal of family and daily life in a refugee camp.

This title was on the previously mentioned York Central (PA) School District list

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Kotzwinkle, William

Walter the dog creates problems with his farts but becomes a hero when burglars enter the house.

In 2004 Walter and his flatulence were "challenged, but retained on the library shelves of the West Salem (WI) Elementary School despite the book's use of the word 'fart' and 'farting' twenty-four times."

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Lê, Minh

A boy and his grandfather cross a language and cultural barrier using their shared love of art, storytelling, and fantasy.

This title was on the previously mentioned York Central (PA) School District list.. 

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Lindstrom, Carole

Water is the first medicine. It affects and connects us all... When a black snake threatens to destroy the Earth and poison her people's water, one young water protector takes a stand to defend Earth's most sacred resource. Inspired by the many indigenous-led movements across North America, this bold and lyrical picture book issues an urgent rallying cry to safeguard the Earth's water from harm and corruption.

Like Crown, this was part of the donation from The Conscious Kid that was rejected by the The Northampton (PA) Area School District.

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Lukoff, Kyle

Aidan, a transgender boy, experiences complicated emotions as he and his parents prepare for the arrival of a new baby.

This book and three others were removed from a 5th grade classroom by the Swarthmore Rutledge School administration in the Wallingford-Swarthmore (PA) School District. All three books were reinstated when community members and students voiced their support of the books.

This was also one of the rejected donations from The Conscious Kid mentioned above.

Like Drum Dream Girl, this book purchased by the Duval County (FL) Public Schools, and was removed from classrooms for review.

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Lyons, Kelly Starling

Alan looks forward to the annual family reunion at the farm where Daddy grew up, but everyone is supposed to share something special and Alan worries about arriving with empty hands.

This was also part of the Duval County (FL) removal mentioned above.

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Martin, Bill

Children see a variety of animals, each one a different color, and a teacher looking at them.

In 2010, the Texas State Board of Education banned this classic picture book because of the author's Marxist views, except they had the wrong author. A different Bill Martin wrote an adult book titled Ethical Marxism: The Categorical Imperative of Liberation. Oops!

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Muhammad, Ibtihaj

Faizah relates how she feels on the first day her sister, sixth-grader Asiya, wears a hijab to school.

This title was on the previously mentioned York Central (PA) School District list

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Newman, Lesléa

Heather's favorite number is two. She has two arms, two legs, and two pets. And she also has two mommies. When Heather goes to school for the first time, someone asks her about her daddy, but Heather doesn't have a daddy. Then something interesting happens. When Heather and her classmates all draw pictures of their families, not one drawing is the same. 

This groundbreaking picture book was the first to feature a same-sex family. As of 2015 it had faced 42 efforts by parents and legislators to remove it from schools and public libraries for it's LGBTQ+ content. New challenges continue to arise.


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Ostertag, Molly Knox

In thirteen-year-old Aster's family, all the girls are raised to be witches, while boys grow up to be shapeshifters. Anyone who dares cross those lines is exiled. Unfortunately for Aster, he still hasn't shifted... and he's still fascinated by witchery, no matter how forbidden it might be. When a mysterious danger threatens the other boys, Aster knows he can help -- as a witch. 

At a 2021 Indian River County (FL) School District’s board meeting, a group of parents presented a list of 216 books that they demanded be removed from schools for what they considered “pornographic” content. Witch Boy was on that list.


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Salazar, Aida

Eleven-year-old (nearly twelve) Celi Rivera, who is a mix of Black-Puerto Rican-Mexican Indian is uncomfortable about her approaching period, and the changes that are happening to her body; she is horrified that her mother wants to hold a traditional public moon ceremony to celebrate the occasion--until she finds out that her best friend Magda is contemplating an even more profound change of life.

Like Hurricane Child, The Moon Within was included on a list of books pulled from school libraries for review in the North East Independent School District in Texas. 

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Sendak, Maurice

A naughty little boy, sent to bed without his supper, sails to the land of the wild things where he becomes their king.

This beloved picture book has faced multiple challenges over the years for “witchcraft/supernatural elements" and generally being unsuited to the age group.

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Sorell, Traci

Otsaliheliga is a Cherokee word that is used to express gratitude. Journey through the year with a Cherokee family and their tribal nation as they express thanks for celebrations big and small. A look at modern Native American life as told by a citizen of the Cherokee Nation.

This was on both the Duval County (FL) Public Schools and the Central York (PA) School District lists of banned or challenged books.

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Yang, Kelly

Recent immigrants from China and desperate for work and money, ten-year-old Mia Tang's parents take a job managing a rundown motel in Southern California, even though the owner, Mr. Yao is a nasty skinflint who exploits them; while her mother (who was an engineer in China) does the cleaning, Mia works the front desk and tries to cope with demanding customers and other recent immigrants--not to mention being only one of two Chinese in her fifth grade class, the other being Mr. Yao's son, Jason.

This was challenged for "antiracist" content in the Plainedge (NY) School District. 

It was also on the previously mentioned York Central (PA) School District list


Summaries provided by DPL's catalog unless otherwise noted. Click on each title to view more information.

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