An Overview of Banned Books in U.S. Schools

Categories: Banned Books

Throughout the century there has existed books have books which have been the objects of censorship or censorship attempts. Every year, books in the U.S. and around the world are challenged. Some of the challenged books are banned, some aren’t. Many were banned for decades from the U.S. mails under the Comstock Law of 1873. Some books have been banned for their frank sexual descriptions and their parodies of contemporary literature. Several of these books are banned due to injurious public morality; the punishment for ignoring these bans ranges from almost non-existent to severe.

In this essay I’m reviewing the history of banned books and the reasons why they have been prohibited. In many instances, government and legal authorities for political and religious reasons have banned books. One example, Thomas Paine was indicated for treason in England in 1972 for his work The Rights of Man, which defends the French Revolution. Furthermore, one English publisher was also prosecuted for printing The Age of Reason, here Paine argues for Deism and against Christianity and Atheism.

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In the United States, politically motivated censorship has occurred as well.

In 1954, the Providence, RI post office attempted to block delivery of Lenin’s State and Revolution to Brown University, citing it as “subversive”. Also, in 1918, the US War Department told the American Library Association to remove a number of pacifists and “disturbing” books, including Ambrose Bierce’s Can Such Things Be?. Also during World War I, the US government jailed those who were distributing anti-draft pamphlets like This One.

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“. In 1918, the US War Department Schenck, the publisher of the pamphlet, was convicted, and his conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1919. This shows that government had played a lot of rules to prohibit the books that have been against of what they believe in.

Next, the holy books such as The Bible and The Qur’an were both removed from a several libraries and also banned from import into the Soviet Union from 1926 to 1956. Many editions of the Bible have also been banned and burned by civil and religious authorities throughout history. On July 1, 1996, Singapore convicted a woman for possessing the Jehovah’s Witness translation of the Bible. In addition, a 1997 US government studies reported that Burma bans all Bible translations into local indigenous languages. Government censored even religious beliefs; this seems immoral that the government prohibits the words of god. In schools, also many books have been banned from the students.

For example, John T. Scopes was convicted in 1925 of teaching the evolutionary theory of Darwin’s “Origin of Species” in his high school class. The Tennessee law prohibiting teaching evolution theory was finally repealed in 1967, but further laws intended to stifle the teaching of evolution in science classes have been proposed in the Tennessee legislature as recently as 1996. Or the edition of “Little Red Riding Hood” was banned in two California school districts in 1989. Following the Little Red-Cap story from Grimm’s Fairy Tales, the book shows the heroine taking food and wine to her grandmother. The school districts cited concerns about the use of alcohol in the story.

Also Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn has been dropped from high school reading lists due to alleged racism. In 1999, the censorship has not stopped. Today many parents argued that they want to protect their children from Internet pornography on library computers. However the organization show how out of step it is with the American public is by adamantly opposing computer-filtering software to protect children from hard core pornographers and pedophiles. The First Amendment, states the right of speech and shows that adult material even the most hard core pornography should never be restricted from children in schools and libraries.

People want to sanitize the culture at large so they don’t have to do their job as parents. I think it is the parent’s responsibility to teach children how to think for themselves within the value system that the parents want their children to uphold. Not only is it unrealistic, undemocratic, and wrong to seek and destroy every potential challenge to that value system in the child’s environment, it is also counterproductive: “an untested ideology will blow over in the first stiff wind the grown-up child faces alone.” Jon Tveite

In conclusion, people should have the freedom to choose and express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular. It is important to ensure the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them.


  1. Banned Books On-Line,
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An Overview of Banned Books in U.S. Schools. (2021, Dec 17). Retrieved from

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