Broadcasting the Ban: Books Challenged in 2013

Broadcasting the Ban: Books Challenged in 2013


The battle against literary censorship has been raging for years, yet it still can be startling to find that a favorite book has been challenged or worse, banned! Here are 10 books that Zola was unhappy to see being taken away from readers in 2013.

Looking for AlaskaLooking for Alaska by John Green
The challenge to Looking for Alaska in Fort Lupton, CO sent John Green to his Tumblr asking for his numerous fans to send support to the librarians and teachers fighting for his book. He acknowledged in his entry that this was not the first and would not be the last challenge to his book; sure enough the book was also challenged in Tennessee.

NeverwhereNeverwhere by Neil Gaiman
After Neverwhere was temporarily removed from a New Mexico school for strong language and sexual content, Gaiman found he had to speak up. He shared in an e-mail to NPR, “I’m faintly baffled by this. Neverwhere’s a book that’s been taught in schools for years: it’s an adult novel that kids love… It’s an adventure, with themes of social responsibility. I’ve not seen it described as ‘R Rated’ before, and mostly worry that anyone who buys it thinking they are in for lashings of Sex and Violence will be extremely disappointed.”

Popularity PapersThe Popularity Papers by Amy Ignatow 
This brightly colored and illustrated book was challenged in Prosser, WA. A high school social studies teacher asked for the book to be reviewed and possibly removed due to the fact that one of the characters had two fathers. The school district decided to keep the book in the library.

A Child Called ItA Child Called It by Dave Pelzer
That same teacher also called attention to Dave Pelzer’s autobiographical story of surviving child abuse. The book remains in the Proser, WA, library yet was banned in Sussex, DE, in 2001 for its content and profanity.

When It HappensWhen It Happens by Susane Colasanti
This YA novel on first loves and relationships was challenged at the Helen Matthes Library in Effingham, IL. A concerned mother challenged the book, believing it to be too heavily laden with sexual themes and content for her 14-year-old daughter. The library stood their ground, though, and maintained that the characters and content were appropriate for the teen read it was labeled as.

PersepolisPersepolis by Marjane Satrapi Chicago
This award-winning graphic novel was removed from Chicago, IL public classrooms for its graphic language and images. The book continues to be available in libraries, yet the Chicago Teachers Association remains upset that they’re unable to teach the material.

BelovedBeloved by Toni Morrison
A frequent visitor to the list of challenged books, this year brought two allegations against the book—the multiple citations included sexual content, language, and the use of God’s name in vain. The first was in a high school English class in Salem, MI and the second was in Fairfax County, VA schools. The  book has not been removed.

PrepPrep by Curtis Sittenfeld 
Originally challenged in 2011, the book was finally brought before the school board and the decision was made to keep it on the 9th grade summer reading list after impassioned arguments from students in favor of keeping the novel. The book has been challenged several times before for being called too mature.

Fallen AngelsFallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
Inspired by Myers’ own experiences, Fallen Angels takes a real look at the tragedies of the Vietnam War—perhaps a little too real for some parents. The book was challenged after parents noticed it on the Danbury Middle School reading list in Toledo, OH. Their complaints included gory descriptions and adult language.

Intensely AliceIntensely Alice by Phyllis Naylor
After a grandparent expressed concern to a counselor, a middle school principal from Buffalo, NY, decided to investigate Intensely Alice and made the decision to temporarily pull the book from the library because he felt the sexual content wasn’t appropriate for his students. After an official meeting, the book was return to the library shelves.

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This article originally appeared on Zola Books.

Kelly Gallucci
Kelly Gallucci is the Executive Editor of, where she oversees Bookish's editorial content, offers book recommendations, and interviews authors like Leigh Bardugo, V.E. Schwab, and Sabaa Tahir. She's just coming off of moderating an author panel at New York Comic Con. When she's not working, Kelly can be found color coordinating her bookshelves, eating Chipotle, and binging Netflix with her pitbull. She is a Gryffindor.