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15 Classic Banned Books

In the big world of books, there's a special group that faced a lot of trouble, stood strong for a long time, and proved how powerful words can be. These are the classic banned books. They went through tough checks where people said their stories were too hard, daring, or rebellious for some readers.

This journey through these classic banned books will uncover stories that not only resisted authority but also shaped discussions about expressing our thoughts, society's beliefs, and why these books were banned in the first place. Let's find out what makes them so controversial and impactful.

What are classic banned books?

Classic banned books, often steeped in controversy, have served as catalysts for crucial conversations in society. These works, penned by daring authors, confront difficult themes, shed light on uncomfortable truths, and delve into taboo topics, challenging societal norms and expectations.

Despite facing censorship and backlash, these books have left an indelible mark on literature, inspiring readers to question, reflect, and engage in critical thinking. They serve as a testament to the power of written words, proving that even though they might be suppressed, their influence cannot be extinguished, instead, it only amplifies, making them enduringly relevant.

What is the #1 most banned book of all time?

George Orwell's “1984” has indeed been the number one classic banned book of all time. Published in 1949, this dystopian novel presents a chilling vision of a future under the rule of an authoritarian regime, where individuality is suppressed, and even thoughts are controlled by the government.

The book has been banned or challenged in various parts of the world for its political themes and perceived subversive ideas. In the United States, it has often been removed from school reading lists or libraries due to its explicit sexual content and “pro-communist” material.

Despite these challenges, “1984” continues to be widely read and studied today, recognized as a profound warning against the dangers of totalitarianism. However, it's crucial to note that the frequency of a book's banning does not necessarily reflect its quality or significance.

Instead, it often reflects the societal and cultural controversies of different times and places. As such, “1984,” like other frequently banned books, remains a significant work of literature that continues to inspire meaningful dialogue and reflection.

Which classic books were banned?

Numerous classic books have faced bans or censorship at various points in history, and the reasons for their censorship range from themes of sexuality and profanity to political and religious reasons. Here are some examples of classic banned books:

Junie B. Jones #1: Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Park, Barbara (Author)

Junie B. Jones

“I was banned for promoting bad behavior.”

Meet the World’s Funniest Kindergartner—Junie B. Jones! Remember when it was scary to go to school? In the first Junie B. Jones book, it’s Junie B.’s first day and she doesn’t know anything. She’s so scared of the school bus and the meanies on it that when it’s time to go home, she doesn’t.

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Melissa (previously published as GEORGE)
  • Gino, Alex (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)


“I was banned for LGBTQIA+ content.”

The story traces Melissa's journey of self-discovery and acceptance, as she gradually gathers the courage to reveal her true identity to her family and friends. It's a touching exploration of the struggles faced by young transgender individuals, offering readers a valuable perspective on identity, acceptance, and the importance of being true to oneself.


Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

“I was banned for harsh depictions of racism and use of racial slurs.”

Set in Mississippi at the height of the Depression, this is the story of one family's struggle to maintain their integrity, pride, and independence in the face of racism and social injustice.

Furthermore, it is also Cassie's story–Cassie Logan, an independent girl who discovers over the course of an important year why having land of their own is so crucial to the Logan family, even as she learns to draw strength from her own sense of dignity and self-respect.

A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet)
  • Madeleine L'Engle (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

A Wrinkle in Time

“I was banned for opposing Christian beliefs and teaching occult practices.”

It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

“Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger told them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me sit down for a moment, and then I'll be on my way. Speaking of ways, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract.”

Winnie the Pooh

“I was banned for being disrespectful to God by having talking animals.”

The iconic adventures of Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-Pooh, and their animal friends—Piglet, Kanga and Roo, Owl, Rabbit, Tigger, and Eeyore—have delighted generations of children. In this beautiful edition of the first book that introduced those beloved characters, each of Ernest H. Shepard's classic original illustrations has been meticulously hand-painted.

Bright in color and elegant in design, this lovely volume of Milne's classic tales welcomes friends old and new into the most enchanted of places, the Hundred Acre Wood.

Everyman's Library pursues the highest production standards, printing on acid-free cream-colored paper, with full-cloth cases with two-color foil stamping, decorative endpapers, silk ribbon markers, and European-style half-round spines.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

“I was banned for graphic violence, mysticism, and gore.”

NARNIA the land beyond the wardrobe, is the secret country known only to Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy the place where the adventure begins. Lucy is the first to find the secret of the wardrobe in the professor's mysterious old house.

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At first, no one believes her when she tells of her adventures in the land of Narnia. But soon Edmund and then Peter and Susan discover the Magic and meet Aslan, the Great Lion, for themselves. In the blink of an eye, their lives are changed forever.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Classic Stories)
  • Hardcover Book
  • English (Publication Language)

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

“I was banned for depicting women in strong leadership positions.”

Dorothy’s new life with her aunt and uncle in Kansas is far from exciting. But when a powerful tornado blows Dorothy and her little dog, Toto, far away, they find themselves in a world of enchantment: Oz!

As they travel the Yellow Brick Road in search of a wish-granting wizard, Dorothy, Toto, and their new friends―the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Man―must elude the Wicked Witch of the West and discover their hidden strengths. But even a little courage, a little brains, and a little heart can’t whisk Dorothy back home to Kansas―or can they?

With foil on the cover and bright full-color art from Teresa Martinez, this adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz promises to be an exciting first-chapter book.

The Adventures of Captain Underpants Full Color

“I was banned for promoting bad behavior.”

George and Harold are a couple of class clowns. The only thing they enjoy more than playing practical jokes is creating their own comic books. And together they've created the greatest superhero in the history of their elementary school: Captain Underpants! His true identity is so secret, even he doesn't know who he is!

Where the Sidewalk Ends: Poems and Drawings
  • Hardcover Book
  • Silverstein, Shel (Author)

Where the Sidewalk Ends

“I was banned for drug reference, suicide, death, and disrespecting truth and authority.”

You'll meet a boy who turns into a TV set and a girl who eats a whale. The Unicorn and the Bloath live there, and so does Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout who will not take the garbage out. It is a place where you wash your shadow and plant diamond gardens, a place where shoes fly, sisters are auctioned off, and crocodiles go to the dentist.

Shel Silverstein's masterful collection of poems and drawings stretches the bounds of imagination and will be cherished by readers of all ages. This is a collection that belongs on everyone's bookshelf. Makes a great gift for special occasions such as holidays, birthdays, and graduation.

Woke: A Young Poet's Call to Justice
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Browne, Mahogany L. (Author)

Woke: A Young Poet's Call to Justice

“I was banned for promoting terrorism.”

Historically poets have been at the forefront of social movements. Woke is a collection of poems by women that reflects the joy and passion in the fight for social justice, tackling topics from discrimination to empathy, and acceptance to speaking out.

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With Theodore Taylor’s bright, emotional art, and writing from Mahogany L. Browne, Elizabeth Acevedo, and Olivia Gatwood, kids will be inspired to create their own art and poems to express how they see justice and injustice.

The Lorax (Classic Seuss)
  • The Lorax
  • Hardcover Book

The Lorax

“I was banned for being anti-logging.”

Dr. Seuss’s beloved story teaches kids to treat the planet with kindness and stand up and speak up for others. Experience the beauty of the Truffula Trees and the danger of taking our earth for granted in a story that is timely, playful, and hopeful. The book’s final pages teach us that just one small seed, or one small child, can make a difference.

Hop on Pop: The Simplest Seuss for Youngest Use
  • Combines phonics and word recognition
  • Highly recommended

Hop on Pop

“I was banned for encouraging children to use violence against their fathers.”

Full of short, simple words and silly rhymes, this book is perfect for reading alone or reading aloud with Dad! The rollicking rhythm will keep kids entertained on every page, and it's an especially good way to show Pop some love on Father’s Day! 

Originally created by Dr. Seuss himself, Beginner Books are fun, funny, and easy to read. These unjacketed hardcover early readers encourage children to read all on their own, using simple words and illustrations.

Something Happened in our Town

“I was banned for being anti-police.”

Something Happened in Our Town follows two families — one White, one Black — as they discuss a police shooting of a Black man in their community. The story aims to answer children's questions about such traumatic events and to help children identify and counter racial injustice in their own lives.

I Am Jazz
  • Hardcover Book
  • Herthel, Jessica (Author)

I Am Jazz

“I was banned for confronting a topic that is sensitive, controversial, and politically charged and having a transgender character.”

From the time she was two years old, Jazz knew that she had a girl's brain in a boy's body. She loved pink and dressing up as a mermaid and didn't feel like herself in boys' clothing.

This confused her family until they took her to a doctor who said that Jazz was transgender and that she was born that way. Jazz's story is based on her real-life experience and she tells it in a simple, clear way that will be appreciated by picture book readers, their parents, and teachers.

And Tango Makes Three
  • Hardcover Book
  • Justin Richardson (Author)

And Tango Makes Three

“I was banned for LGBTQIA+ content.”

At the penguin house at the Central Park Zoo, two penguins named Roy and Silo were a little bit different from the others. But their desire for a family was the same. And with the help of a kindly zookeeper, Roy and Silo get the chance to welcome a baby penguin of their very own.

The banning of books often reflects societal concerns and values, and as times change, so do the reasons behind censorship. It's important to note that many of these books are now celebrated for their literary contributions despite their controversial histories.

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