Sound Off on Censorship: Listens for Banned Books Week

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!

See our full collection of banned books and read up on more ways to celebrate Banned Books Week on Books on Tape.

Song of Solomon

As she follows Milkman from his rustbelt city to the place of his family’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 and the Sorcerer's Stone
Author: J.K. Rowling
Read By: Jim Dale

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

Being Jazz

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

Eleanor & Park

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

Challenged For: profanity, sexual language

Listen to an excerpt Eleanor & Park

Of Mice and Men
Author: John Steinbeck
Read By: Gary Sinise

George and his simple-minded friend Lenny dream, as drifters will, of a place to call their own—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 “the best laid schemes o’mice an’ men,” 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

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Author: Maya Angelou
Read By: Maya Angelou

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 Angelou’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
Author: Judy Blume
Read By: Halley Feiffer

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

Speak

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 — 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 — she must speak the truth.

Challenged For: soft pornography, glorifying drinking, cursing and premarital sex

Listen to an excerpt Speak

A Time to Kill
Author: John Grisham
Read By: Michael Beck

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