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Recently Banned or Challenged Books, Grades 9–12

Explore this gallery of challenged and banned books for high school students. Learn why these books were challenged, and celebrate your freedom to read during Banned Books Week. You'll find a literature guide or classroom activity to accompany each book.

Visit http://www.ala.org/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks for lists of frequently challenged books by year.

Grades:
9 |
10 |
11 |
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun is an epic story of the Younger family struggling to realize the American dream by escaping ghetto life. The play is a provocative reflection of racial attitudes of the 1950s and of today.

In 1979, the play's circulation was restricted in a Utah school district when it was criticized by an anti-pornography group. In 2005, the play was challenged in an Illinois high school on the objection that it is degrading to African Americans.

Activity: This literature guide for A Raisin in the Sun includes teaching suggestions to be used before, during, and after reading the play.

Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher

Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher is a collection of short stories about the characters in his novels. In 1995, Athletic Shorts was challenged at a school library in Charleston County, South Carolina, because the story deals with divorce, violence, AIDS, and homosexuality. It was one of the top ten most frequently challenged books of 2006. Offensive language and its treatment of homosexuality were commonly cited objections.

Activity: This teacher's guide to challenged and banned books features classroom activities and discussion questions about the novels of Chris Crutcher, the First Amendment, freedom of speech, and censorship.

Crank by Ellen Hopkins
Crank by Ellen Hopkins

Crank by Ellen Hopkins is the story of a teenage girl who becomes addicted to crystal meth. It was one of the top ten most frequently challenged books of 2010 for its depiction of drug use, offensive language, and sexual content.

Activity: Raise drug awareness with the activities in this teacher's guide for Crank. The questions in this guide will help you engage high school students in a serious discussion about drugs and addiction.

The Dead Zone and other books by Stephen King
The Dead Zone and other books by Stephen King

Several of Stephen King's novels have been challenged and banned in public schools over the years. The Dead Zone was among the 100 most frequently banned books of the 1990s, along with Cujo, Carrie, and Christine. They have been challenged for "age appropriateness," "filthy language," "violence," and "sexual references".

Activity: Use the suggestions in this teacher's guide to incorporate the selected Stephen King short stories into your high school English curriculum. Activities include ideas for discussion, writing, research, drama, and utilization of technology.

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier tells the story behind seventeenth-century Baroque artist Johannes Vermeer's painting "Girl With a Pearl Earring". The novel was banned in Iran in 2006.

Activity: Use the discussion questions in this reading group guide for Girl With a Pearl Earring to examine Chevalier's writing style, historical fiction, and life for Dutch women during the mid 1600s.

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad focuses on the colonization of Congo by the country of Belgium and takes a harsh look at barbarity, civilization, colonization, and the colonizers.

Heart of Darkness has been banned in some U.S. schools for its violent content and use of the word "nigger".

Activity: This literature guide for Heart of Darkness includes an introduction to the story and discussion questions to use with the novel.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini spans Afghan history from the final days of the monarchy to the present as it tells the story of a friendship between two boys growing up in Kabul.

The Kite Runner was one of the top ten most frequently challenged books of 2008. Reasons cited for censorship include objections to sexual content and offensive language.

Activity: Educate students about Afghanistan's history and culture through the pre-reading activities in this literature guide for The Kite Runner. This guide also includes comprehension questions, references, and creative projects that will promote critical thinking.

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott
Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott is a riveting novel about an abducted girl's struggle to free herself from abuse and starvation by her kidnapper. It has been both challenged and banned; the most common reason cited for censorship is that the subject matter is "innapropriate".

Activity: Use the resources in this reading guide to discuss literary techniques, characters, and the difficult topics of abduction and abuse. After reading the story, students will research child protection laws and create pamphlets with tips for keeping children safe.

Looking for Alaska by John Green
Looking for Alaska by John Green

Looking for Alaska by John Green is the story of Miles Halter, a teenage boy who sets off for boarding school in search of the "Great Perhaps" and becomes encircled by friends who are everything but safe and boring. Their nucleus is beautiful, articulate, and reckless Alaska Young who captures his heart. When tragedy strikes the group, Miles is forced to take a closer look at himself and his relationships.

In 2008, some parents requested the book be removed from the 11th grade English curriculum at Depew High School in Depaw, New York. The parents objected to sexual content and graphic language in the novel.

Activity: This guide to books by John Green includes discussion questions for Looking for Alaska, The Fault in Our Stars; Will Grayson, Will Grayson; Paper Towns; and An Abundance of Katherines.

Monster by Walter Dean Myers
Monster by Walter Dean Myers

Monster by Walter Dean Myers is the story of sixteen-year-old Steve Harmon—a film student who ends up incarcerated for his alleged role in a robbery in which the store owner was killed. As he stands trial for felony murder, Steve writes a screenplay about the events leading up to his incarceration.

Monster has been challenged in school districts across the country. In Kansas, a group of parents challenged the book (along with 13 others) for containing "vulgar language" and "violent imagery that is gratuitously employed."

Activity: Spark a spirited debate about the moral and social dilemmas that arise in Walter Dean Myers's Monster with the group discussion questions in this reading guide.

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich

In Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, journalist and author Barbara Ehrenreich shares her experience going under cover to work low-wage jobs across America. In the process, she learns how difficult it is to eat, find shelter, and survive earning poverty-level wages.

Nickel and Dimed was one of the top ten most frequently challenged books of 2010. Some reasons cited for censorship include its religious and political viewpoints, offensive language, and drugs.

Activity: Use this teacher's guide for Nickel and Dimed to discuss Ehrenreich's experiences under cover, the treatment of low-wage workers, and what students learned about poverty in America.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, is the story of a socially isolated teenage rape victim navigating her freshman year of high school. It was among the 100 most frequently challenged books of the 2000s. Objections include claims that the book is inappropriate for young readers because it contains content about rape, sexual assault, and suicidal thoughts.

Activity: Use the resources in this literature guide for Speak to engage students in a thoughtful discussion about the serious and sensitive issue of rape.

Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson
Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson

In Twisted, the acclaimed Laurie Halse Anderson tackles a very controversial subject: what it means to be a man today.

In 2009, Twisted was removed from a classroom in Mount Sterling, Kentucky, after parents claimed the book covers topics unsuitable for a coed high school classroom, contains foul language, and is not intellectually challenging. Parents in Indiana also attempted to have the book removed from the school curriculum.

Activity: This literature guide for Twisted will help you with your classroom discussion of the novel.

Unwind by Neal Shusterman
Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Unwind by Neal Shusterman is about a futuristic world in which parents are allowed to forcibly donate the organs of their difficult or unwanted teenagers.

In 2009, Unwind and three other books were removed from a classroom in Mount Sterling, Kentucky after parents claimed they cover topics unsuitable for a coed high school classroom and are not intellectually challenging.

Activity: Use this reading group guide for Unwind to supplement the book. It includes pre-reading research topics and activities, discussion questions, a character list, a slang dictionary, and post-reading activities.

Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher
Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher

Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher was one of the top ten most frequently challenged books of 2005. It has been challenged in high school classrooms and libraries across the United States for containing profanity and racial slurs.

Activity: Use the classroom activities and discussion questions in this teacher's guide to study Chris Crutcher's books in the context of censorship and the freedom to read.

Boy reading in library
More Banned and Challenged Books
Visit our Banned and Challenged Books page to find more titles and literature activities for Banned Books Week.

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