The Most Ridiculous Claims Used to Challenge Classic Novels

This morning, the American Library Association released its study of the most frequently challenged books of 2012, a list that includes classics and YA touchstones alike. But, of course, books have been challenged, banned, and removed from school curricula for years, and sometimes for the silliest (at least in retrospect) of reasons. At the ALA’s website, we found a list of some of the reasons behind the historical challenges of classic novels, and while some of them seem like run-of-the-mill complaints (parents do not like naughty language), others are frankly absurd. Seriously, if these books were this scandalous, we think we’d remember. After the jump, we’ve culled a few of our outrageous favorites from the ALA’s list. Scoff or agree, but read on.


The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger

In 1963, parents in Columbus OH petitioned the school board to ban the novel, calling it “anti-white” and “obscene.” Anti-white?

In 1988, it was challenged at a high school in Linton-Stockton, IN because it is “blasphemous and undermines morality.”

In 1993, the novel was challenged as required reading in the Corona Norco, CA Unified School District because it is “centered around negative activity.” That is called conflict, Californians. We know it’s hard to deal with.

In 2001, Salinger’s classic was removed by a Dorchester District 2 school board member in Summerville, SC because it “is a filthy, filthy book.”