Very quickly - challenged means someone is attempting to remove the book because of it's contents. Banned means the material (the book) is removed/restricted. Most books are only challenged - librarians and teachers work to try and keep the books in the library/curriculum. (Still confused? Check out the link down below called: About banned/challenged books).
I could write about the books I've loved that have challenged/banned, or the books I want to read, but just haven't had the time to get to yet (so many books, so little time). And I do want to highlight some books that I think are important, too important to be made unavailable. There's books about growing up that could help kids, or about something bad happening, or about grief. They might not be happy books, but that doesn't mean kids need to be protected from them - kids are much more resilient then anyone else, and reading can help.
First off - Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. Okay, I'm biased, because I adore this series. However - I found this article, from earlier this month, on Scientific American titled Why Everyone Should Read Harry Potter - it's about how Harry Potter apparently makes people nicer.
The Bluest Eyes by Toni Morrison, on a slightly more serious note, I haven't read this book but I've heard amazing things. That it's heartbreaking but important. And I can definitely see it's importance:
The Bluest Eye is Toni Morrison's first novel, a book heralded for its richness of language and boldness of vision. Set in the author's girlhood hometown of Lorain, Ohio, it tells the story of black, eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove. Pecola prays for her eyes to turn blue so that she will be as beautiful and beloved as all the blond, blue-eyed children in America. In the autumn of 1941, the year the marigolds in the Breedloves' garden do not bloom. Pecola's life does change- in painful, devastating ways.1984 and Animal Farm by George Orwell. There's irony in 1984 being challenged/banned a lot. I haven't read it yet - and I have read Animal Farm, but I was too young to appreciate it, I think, and it wasn't explained well to me at all, but I'm planning on rereading it soon. I'm sure probably everyone knows the plots behinds these books, they're well known classics.
What its vivid evocation of the fear and loneliness at the heart of a child's yearning, and the tragedy of its fulfillment. The Bluest Eye remains one of Tony Morrisons's most powerful, unforgettable novels- and a significant work of American fiction.
And there are books that might not be able to, really, like these, but are still important. The Giver, The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Lord of the Flies, Lolita, The Grapes of Wrath, Brave New World, The Sun Also Rises, Slaughterhouse-Five, The Lord of the Rings, The Awakening, A Wrinkle in Time, The Handmaid's Tale, Flowers for Algernon, and a ton more.
What is your favorite book that's been challenged/banned? Do you have any related stories? What are you doing for Banned Books Week?
Some Banned Books Week Links:
About banned/challenged books
About Banned Books Week
Frequently challenged books
List of frequently banned/challenged classics