Every year the American Library Association holds the "Banned Book Week" during the last week of September as a way to provide awareness about your freedom to choose what you read. During this week, people are encouraged to learn about and read both banned and challenged books. Banned books refer to those projects that were successfully banned from a curriculum, library, church, country, and etc. Challenged books were attempts.
Many banned and challenged books were made into movies. Below is just a sampling of those books. We encourage you to both see the movies (if you haven't) and to read the books. Although it isn't "Banned Book Week" right now, we still celebrate and encourage you to check out these titles.
10 Carrie: Stephen King
Carrie, acknowledged by Stephen King as his first success, was banned for decades. Considered by the American Library Association as one of the most frequently challenged books from 1990-1999, Carrie was made into a movie, not once, but three times.
The first movie starred a young Sissy Spacek as Carrie, a young woman abused by her mother, bullied by her classmates, and confused about entering womanhood. She becomes unhinged as the movie and book continue. Her supernatural powers make her frightening, especially the iconic prom scene where she turns from misunderstood outsider to monster in just a few seconds. Other movies were made in 2013 and 2002, though 1976's original is regarded as the most powerful.
9 Precious/Push: Sapphire
The book, originally titled Push, was made into the film Precious in 2009. The film received acclaim and many awards, such as Best Supporting Actress, Best Screenplay Adaptation, and more. It featured actors, such as Mariah Carey, stepping out of their previous typecast roles to tackle the different subjects brought forth in the story. The book and film address illiteracy, abuse, incest, and more. In the book, Precious looks to poets like Langston Hughes for inspiration, especially the poem Mother to Son.
As tough and yet inspirational a story this is, it has been challenged due to language and content with parents protesting it being assigned as a required text.
8 Like Water for Chocolate: Laura Esquivel
Like Water for Chocolate is a tasty treat of magical realism, where the supernatural blends with the regular world. It revolves around forbidden love and delicious food - what better ingredients could you have? Our heroine, not allowed to marry due to a family custom (the youngest stays single in order to be the caretaker), has to watch her love marry her oldest sister. She also cooks, and her feelings are transmitted through her cooking. A sad but romantic tale, it was made into a movie in 1992.
NPR reported it banned by an Idaho School District for its sexual content in 2012. In addition, the book was banned by the Tucson School District from 2012 to 2017 when the Mexican American Studies program was shut down, resulting in over 80 banned books.
7 The House Of Spirits: Isabel Allende
The House of Spirits, considered Allende's debut novel, was made into a movie in 1994 and featured popular actors like Meryl Streep and Winona Ryder. The book is another tale of magical realism, with both the film and book focusing on different generations of the same family. We learn of the skeletons in the closet along the way, that which the family would rather remain hidden.
This book is recognized as one of the top 100 challenged and banned books from 2000 to 2009. Perhaps, that may make one want to read it even more.
6 The Hunger Games: Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games is a trilogy about a dystopian future. Our heroine is made to fight and kill other teens in order to survive and to provide "entertainment" for the wealthy Capitol in an annual reality-TV style event. This is thought-provoking source material, which led to strong performances by the actors for all four of the movies.
This series made the top ten list of the most challenged and banned books in 2013.
5 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest: Ken Kesey
The classic film, featuring a young Jack Nicholson, won many awards and accolades. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest's use of language, sex, and sensitive subject matter often lands it on the banned and challenged book list. Recently, parents have protested the use of it in the school curriculum.
The book looks at mental health practices of the past, has a nurse as the main villain, and a narrator who both is and isn't the main character. It is an interesting tale told in an unusual way.
4 The Golden Compass/His Dark Materials: Philip Pullman
Made into a film in 2007, The Golden Compass featured a stellar cast, such as Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig. What is intriguing about the book is our young heroine learns to not trust both of her parents, who are less than stellar people.
Her parents are more concerned about their own good than the common good. This is a YA novel (and series) that is frequently challenged and banned due to seeming anti-religious, among other things.
3 The Color Purple: Alice Walker
The Color Purple has been frequently challenged and banned for several decades. It depicts abuse but also hope and perseverance. Back in 1985, it was made into a movie with several great performances, such as Whoopi Goldberg as the main character and Oprah Winfrey as a side character, who also goes through abuse.
This movie received many Oscar nominations. Curious to read the book? We recommend a visit to your local library.
2 To Kill a Mockingbird: Harper Lee
The movie and the book are equally famous. To Kill a Mockingbird has been challenged and banned consistently through the decades, but still remains a book often read in middle and high school.
Something about the story and movie seems to still intrigue the reader/viewer, even with (and maybe because of) its challenging subject matter.
1 Harry Potter Series: J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter helped many people fall in love with reading. Adolescents and adults alike enjoy Harry Potter, both the movies and the books. Interestingly enough, this series has been frequently challenged and banned.
As recently as this year, it was banned in a school in Tennessee because people believed it was connected to "evil spirits," as reported by CBS News. Over a decade ago, it was burned by a church in New Mexico. These are just two examples of the intense reactions to the book series.
Other intense reactions, of course, include positive reactions like the creation of Harry Potter Societies and Clubs in schools and regions. It seems despite the resistance, Harry Potter continues to remain a beloved book and movie series.