During Banned Books Week (September 23rd to September 29th), we’re joining the rest of the literary community to celebrate freedom of speech and to stand up for the right to hear powerful stories. The titles below are some of the most frequently challenged or banned books, and also some of the most highly acclaimed. As you browse through these audiobooks take note of some of the reasons they were banned and censored. Then, proudly declare that you listen to banned books!
As she follows Milkman from his rustbelt city to the place of his familyâ€™s origins, Morrison introduces an entire cast of strivers and seeresses, liars and assassins, the inhabitants of a fully realized black world.
Challenged For: degrading language, explicit sexual scenes
Listen to an excerpt Song of Solomon
Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is. That’s because he’s being raised by his miserable aunt and uncle who are terrified Harry will learn that he’s really a wizard, just as his parents were. But everything changes when Harry is summoned to attend an infamous school for wizards.
Challenged For: characters’ bad behavior, promoting witchcraft, violating separation of church and state when it was taught in schools
Listen to an excerpt Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Jazz Jennings is one of the youngest and most prominent voices in the national discussion about gender identity. At the age of five, Jazz transitioned to life as a girl, with the support of her parents.
Challenged For: inappropriate discussion of gender confusion and sexuality, sex education
Listen to an excerpt Being Jazz
George and his simple-minded friend Lenny dream, as drifters will, of a place to call their ownâ€”a couple of acres and a few pigs, chickens, and rabbits back in Hill Country where land is cheap. But after they come to work on a ranch in the fertile Salinas Valley of California, their hopes, like â€śthe best laid schemes oâ€™mice anâ€™ men,â€ť begin to go awry.
Challenged For: profanity, using God’s name in vain, Steinbeck having an “anti-business” attitude, morbid and depressing themes, violence
Listen to an excerpt Of Mice and Men
Here is a book as joyous and painful, as mysterious and memorable, as childhood itself. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings captures the longing of lonely children, the brute insult of bigotry, and the wonder of words that can make the world right. Maya Angelouâ€™s debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide.
Challenged For: sexually explicit scenes, being “anti-white”, encouraging homosexuality
Listen to an excerpt I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Blubber is a good name for her, the note from Wendy says about Linda. Jill crumples it up and leaves it on the corner of her desk. But Robby grabs the note, and before Linda stops talking it has gone halfway around the room. That’s where it all starts.
Challenged For: undermining authority, objectionable subject matter, lack of social and literary value, profanity
Listen to an excerpt Blubber
Melinda Sordino knows she’s an outcast. She busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops so her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t know glare at her. She retreats into her head. But it’s not so comfortable in her head, either â€” there’s something banging around in there that she doesn’t want to think about. Try as she might to avoid it, it won’t go away, until there is a painful confrontation. Once that happens, she can’t be silent â€” she must speak the truth.
Challenged For: soft pornography, glorifying drinking, cursing and premarital sex
Listen to an excerpt Speak
In this searing courtroom drama, best-selling author John Grisham probes the savage depths of racial violence as he delivers a compelling tale of uncertain justice in the small southern town of Clanton, Mississippi.
Challenged For: sexually explicit scenes, violence, profanity
Listen to an excerpt A Time to Kill