Seven Titles with Censorship Themes

As students seek out books that are currently being challenged and removed from shelves, librarians and their fellow educators can also point them to titles with censorship and book banning themes.


As students seek out books that are currently being challenged and removed from shelves, librarians and their fellow educators can also point them to titles with censorship and book banning themes. Here are some options.

Americus by MK Reed, illus. by Jonathan Hill. First Second. 2011.
Gr 8 Up –In this graphic novel set in small-town Americus, Neil Barton finds solace in a fantasy series that gets challenged by a radical group of community members, led by his best friend’s mother. With the support of the librarian, he takes a stand in favor of the series and speaks before the board to keep the books on the shelves.

Answers in the Pages by David Levithan. Knopf. May 2022.
Gr 5 Up –When a mother reads the last sentence of a book assigned by her son’s teacher, she challenges the title and sends his class into confusion and turmoil. Friends and family find themselves on opposite sides of the issue as the interpretation of the book and the nature of the challenge become a ­philosophical dilemma for administrators, parents, and students.

Attack of the Black Rectangles by Amy Sarig King. Scholastic. Sept. 2022.
Gr 4–7 –When sixth grader Mac opens a book in his classroom and sees words blacked out, he thinks it is a mistake. But Mac’s teacher is the town “watchdog,” who Mac and his friends think has taken it upon herself to remove words she finds inappropriate. They take their concerns to the principal, who is dismissive, so they set off to find the truth on their own. That quest leads to public discussions of underlying issues behind ­censorship attempts and the fight for power and control.

Ban This Book by Alan Gratz. Tor/Starscape. Aug. 2017.
Gr 4–6 –When fourth grader Amy Anne finds out her favorite book, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, is one of the titles banned from the school library by the PTA president, she decides to read all of the banned books. Other students start asking to borrow them, and soon Amy Anne and her friends are running the Banned Books Locker Library out of her locker.

Banned Book Club by Kim Hyun Sook & Ryan Estrada, illus. by Ko Hyung-Ju. Iron Circus Comics. Feb. 2020.
Gr 9 Up –This graphic novel tells the true story of Hyun Sook’s political awakening while at college in Korea in the early 1980s. She accepted an invitation to a book club that turned out to focus on banned books and also became part of a group of underground student rebels.

Property of the Rebel Librarian by Allison Varnes. Random. Sept. 2018.
Gr 4–7 –Middle schooler June’s parents don’t like a book she is reading and create a public uproar that leads to her school librarian getting suspended and most of the books in the school library being removed. In response, June defies her parents and starts an underground library with books from fellow students and the town’s Little Free Library.

Suggested Reading by Dave Connis. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen. Sept. 2019.
Gr 8 Up –When high school senior Clara Evans discovers her principal’s list of “contraband media,” she begins handing out the books—The Perks of Being a Wallflower, ­Eleanor & Park, Speak, and The ­Chocolate War, among others—that were removed from the school library. She does this during lunch, between classes, and after school, despite the promise of severe punishment for students caught with the prohibited books.

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