8 Banned Books for Kids to Read

Banned books have a little something for everyone.

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  • Photo Credit: Featured photo: Suad Kamardeen / Unsplash

Books have been banned in America for longer than it’s been a country. In fact, their use dates back to the 1630s. Despite the fact that a 2022 poll shows that parents largely oppose the practice of banning books, book bans and challenges are on the rise. 

The reason for the bans vary from book to book, but some of the most common reasons include depictions of the LGBTQIA+ community, depictions of people of color, and the argument that some children’s book content is inappropriate for children. 

If you’re not sure where to start with banned books for kids, or trying to understand why certain books are being banned, this list is an excellent start. 

it's perfectly normal, a banned book for kids

It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, Gender, and Sexual Health

By Robie H. Harris

Teaching children about their own bodies and discussing sexual education in age-appropriate ways has long been a controversial topic, leading to the banning of this nonfiction book for kids. Recently updated for its 15th anniversary, It's Perfectly Normal is an award-winning guide to puberty, conception, online safety and more, answering just about every question teens and tweens might have as they go through adolescence.

all boys aren't blue, a banned book for kids

All Boys Aren't Blue

By George M. Johnson

In this series of essays, George M. Johnson uses his personal experience to discuss the challenges faced by men of color and queer youths. Johnson’s memoir recounts his childhood and young adulthood living in New Jersey. He faced and defied expectations of masculinity and heteronormativity. 

All Boys Aren’t Blue was listed among the top banned books in 2022. It’s been challenged over eighty times, for claims for sexually explicit material, and the use of LGBTQIA+ content.

the giver, a banned book for kids

The Giver

By Lois Lowry

This first book in Lowry’s The Giver Quartet introduces a seemingly perfect world. Jonas is among one of the children born to specifically chosen birth mothers, and given to the family unit that will best suit him. The people in this world are almost entirely uniform, all working toward the same goal. That’s the life that’s expected of Jonas as well. But when he’s assigned as a Receiver of Memory, he gains a terrifying understanding of his society’s foundation. 

Lowry’s work has been banned, challenged, and removed from classrooms with more vehemence than other books. The Giver has been challenged thousands of times—over 11,000, in fact. The reasons have included violence, sexual content, infanticide, euthanasia, drug use, and degrading depictions of motherhood and childhood. 


And Tango Makes Three

By Justin Richardson

This is the perfect read for fans of The Pebble and the Penguin, March of the Penguins, and Happy Feet. And Tango Makes Three tells the story of two penguins living in the Central Park Zoo. Roy and Silo are two chinstrap penguins who enjoy one another’s company. They spend all of their time together and build a nest together. They see other penguins having babies, and sit on a rock with the hopes of it hatching. When a zookeeper gives them an egg, and the egg hatches, their little family of two becomes a family of three. 

And Tango Makes Three is based on the true story of a male penguin couple from the Central Park Zoo. The book has been banned internationally repeatedly, with challenges citing LGBTQIA+ content in a kids' book, as well as the idea that the book is anti-family. 



By Raina Telgemeier

We all remember what middle school was like. Many of us were trying to find who we’d best fit in with. Some of us had a first crush, or a first couple of crushes, during that time. Callie is no different. As much as she loves musical theater, she knows that she likely isn’t stage bound—because she’s not particularly good at acting or singing. 

Rather than letting this stop her, Callie funnels her passion into becoming the set designer for the school’s musical, Moon Over Mississippi. At first, it seems like Callie’s idea is the best fit for her, but things aren’t all rosy. Callie faces hurdles as she tries to navigate set crew arguments, has difficulties constructing the sets, and is distracted by the arrival of a crush.

Drama was among one of the top challenged and banned books in 2019. The reasons cited for the ban were concerns about the family values that it depicted, as well as LGBTQIA+ content.


New Kid

By Jerry Craft

Starting out at a new school typically isn’t the most enjoyable experience. Starting over again with a new environment and with new people can be nerve-wracking. It certainly is for Jordan Banks. Joining a distinguished private school is already a little disappointing for him. He’d been hoping to go to an art school, but his parents had decided differently. 

The Riverdale Academy Day School has a reputation for high academic standards, but not necessarily for the diversity of its student population. Jordan is one of the only students of color in his grade. The dissonance between his home life and his school life quickly become apparent, and the differences become stark as he spends more time at school. 

Craft’s New Kid, which was largely based on his own childhood experiences, has been banned in several school districts. The reason given for the challenges included critical race theory and the promotion of Marxism. 


Charlotte's Web

By E.B. White

Widely considered to be a classic children’s book, E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web is the tale of two unlikely farmhouse friends. Wilbur the pig is the runt of his litter. Rather than being immediately killed, a young girl named Fern convinces her family to let her take care of him. 

When Wilbur comes to understand that he’ll likely be eaten, he becomes frightened. But Charlotte, the kind spider living in her web above him, has a plan to keep him alive. Weaving words like Humble and Some Pig into the web over his head makes Wilbur seem extraordinary—but will it be enough to spare his life? 

Charlotte’s Web faced a ban in Kansas in 2006, on the grounds that “talking animals are blasphemous and unnatural.” 


Bridge to Terabithia

By Katherine Paterson

Sometimes it’s best to put our frustrations into a new hobby—something to refocus our energy, and to take our minds off upsetting things. This is the case for Jesse Aarons, who channels his struggles at home into the goal of becoming the fastest runner in his class. His home life is less than ideal. He has work to do on the family’s farm, and considers his sisters to be annoying and time-consuming. 

When the new school year rolls around, Jesse believes that after all of his hard work, he’ll be the fastest runner. All of that changes when his new neighbor, Leslie, proves to be faster than he is. While this could’ve made the two rivals, they instead become good friends, sharing a bond and a secret, magical world called Terabithia. 

Bridge to Terabithia has been challenged and banned multiple times, and for several reasons. Some of the more common reasons include the use of profanity or vulgar language, as well as “depictions of witchcraft.”

Featured photo: Suad Kamardeen / Unsplash