BEDIO: 6 Banned Books to Read in October

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Since it is Banned Books Week, and the beginning of October, let’s discuss banned horror books!

Horror books faced a lot of challenges and bans in the 90’s especially, when there was more of a movement in banning books revolving around the occult/Satanism. These bans were taking place in the typical setting of public libraries or schools. Some of the more popular horror book titles include Carrie by Stephen King, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and the Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine.

Today I want to highlight some horror books, but also mystery/thriller books, and books including more spooky/ paranormal elements but aren’t outright horror.

Without further ado, here are some banned/challenged books you should check out this October:


Beloved by Toni Morrison (1987)

About the Book:

Sethe was born into slavery, and managed to escape to Ohio, but she is haunted by the ghost of her baby, whose tombstone was engraved with one word: Beloved. Beloved is set after the American Civil War, and is inspired by the story of Margaret Garner who, after having made her escape, was captured along with her baby. Instead of having her baby be taken back into a life of slavery, Garner killed her baby.

Beloved won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988, as well as a finalist for the National Book Award in 1987. In 1998, it was adapted into a movie starring Oprah Winfrey.

YearReason for Challenge/Ban
1995Challenged at St. Johns County Schools in St. Augustine, FL because of the book being too violent 
1996The Round Rock, TX Independent High School reading list was challenged also because the book was too violent. However, after review, it remained on the reading list.
1997Challenged by a member of the Madawaska, ME School Committee due to the book’s language. It had been required reading for the advanced placement English class for six years at this point.
1998Challenged in Sarasota County, FL schools due to sexual material.
2006A board member of the Northwest Suburban High School District 214 in Arlington Heights, IL challenged the book due to excerpts she found online, although the book was retained. This all occurred because of election promises that she would bring her Christian beliefs in the board decision making process. Beloved was one of eight titles that were challenged
2007-It was challenged in the Coeur d’Alene School District in Idaho, as some parents believed that Beloved, along with five other titles, needed parental consent before students read them.-During the same year, Beloved was also pulled from an AP English Class at Eastern High School (Louisville, KY). A couple parents complained that the topics depicted in the novel were inappropriate, such as bestiality, racism and sex.
2012At the Plymouth Canton School District in Missouri, there were public hearings held concerning whether Beloved and other books included on the AP English Lit reading list, should be banned. Two parents complained about the content of the book being inappropriate, leading to the superintendent of the district having Beloved removed from any English class curriculum. Students fought against the ban, and eventually the school district decided that the book was allowed to remain a part of the English curriculum.
2016A member of the Virginia State Senate, Richard H. Black, challenged the novel because it was too violent. He also voted for a bill where teachers had to notify parents when sexually explicit content was present in books read for school. The bill was passed in February of 2016, and it was the first state which allowed parents the option to not let their kids read novels assigned for class.

For further research about Beloved‘s challenge/banning history:

Toni Morrison, “Beloved” – The Banned Books Project

Banned & Challenged Classics | Advocacy, Legislation & Issues

Banned Books Awareness: “Beloved”

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (1965 in The New Yorker and 1966 in book form)

About the Book:

In Cold Blood is a true crime book discussing the murders of the Clutter family in Holocomb, Kansas during 1959. He traveled to Kansas with Harper Lee to conduct research through interviews of residents and investigators, before the killers were captured. Six weeks after the murders, Richard Hickock and Perry Smith were arrested, tried and executed for the Clutter family murders.

Although it received much praise from the literary community at the time, there were many critics questioning the truthfulness of the interviews and events Capote wrote about (not the crime itself), claiming they were embellished or just straight up lies.

YearReason for Challenge/Ban
2001In Savannah, GA, the book was banned in an AP English class after a parent complaint about the sex, violence and profanity. The book was eventually reinstated.
2012In Glendale, CA, the Glendale Unified School District attempted blocking a high school English teacher trying to add the book to the advanced English reading list. However, the school board approved the book for students to read. 

For further research about In Cold Blood’s challenge/banning history:

 Why In Cold Blood has been challenged

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (Banned Book – True Crime)

Banned Book Club: In Cold Blood

Killing Mr. Griffin (1978) and Daughters of Eve (1979) by Lois Duncan

About the Books:

Daughters of Eve is about a group of Modesta high school girls who, tired of dealing with the sexism they receive on the daily, create a school club (called the Daughters of Eve) led by the new art teacher, Ms. Stark. Although the club starts off with being able to defend themselves against the daily sexism and producing positive change, everything soon changes as Ms. Stark urges them to seek vengeance in more cruel and dangerous ways.

Killing Mr. Griffin follows a group of high schoolers who kidnap their teacher Mr. Griffin, to “teach him a lesson” because of his strict teaching style and his demand for perfection reflecting in his generous dispersal of bad grades. However, the plan goes south, turning deadly, and despite their initial intentions, now they have to deal with the consequences of murdering their teacher.

Killing Mr. Griffin

YearReason for Challenge/Ban
1988Was challenged at Sinnott Elementary School in Milpitas, California due to “needlessly foul language” along with it having “no redeeming qualities”.
1992It was removed from Bonsall Middle School’s (California) eighth grade reading list due to violence and profanity.
1995In Pennsylvania, it was challenged to be removed from the Shenandoah Valley Junior-Senior High School curriculum due to violence, language and the unflattering references to God.
2000Once again in Pennsylvania, it was challenged in Bristol Borough Middle School due to violence and language.
2001The book was challenged in South Carolina, but the Greenville School board decided to retain the book.

For further research about Killing Mr. Griffin‘s challenge/banning history:

Lois Duncan, “Killing Mr. Griffin” – The Banned Books Project

Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan 30 — Banned Library

Daughters of Eve

Year Reason for Challenge/Ban
1997In West Virginia, it was removed from Jackson County school libraries, along with sixteen other books.
2000Removed from Fairfax County middle school libraries (Virginia) because of violence, risky behaviors and “seeks to prejudice young vulnerable minds on several issues.”
2005Challenged at Lowell Middle School in Indiana due to profanity and sexual content
2007The superintendent of Clovis Municipal Schools in New Mexico removed the books from elementary schools after parent complaints. After review, the reasons listed, such as inappropriate language and “suggestive material” were upheld as credible for keeping the books out of elementary schools. This case is especially interesting, as Duncan herself agreed with the removal of the books, as she believed the content isn’t suitable for students that young.

For further research about Daughters of Eve‘s challenge/banning history:

Daughters of Eve by Lois Duncan — Banned Library

The Dead Zone by Stephen King (1979)

About the Book:

The Dead Zone is a sci-fi thriller about Johnny Smith, who wakes up from a coma after five years with the power to see visions of someone’s future after a single touch. It also follows the perspective of Greg Stillson, who is a rising politician and serial killer.

I wanted to discuss this book specifically because I wrote about it for a big essay project in my Honors Humanities class during my sophomore year of high school. Plus, with our current political situation in the United States, I’ve been thinking about this book a lot, and have been considering re-reading it in the near future.

YearReason for Challenge/Ban
1987In Larchwood, Iowa, the book was removed from West Lyon Community school library, because “it does not meet the standards of the community.”
1992Requires parental consent, and is otherwise restricted to access to high school students only in the Duval County (Florida) school system due to “filthy language”.

Banned in Peru, Indiana school system because Stephen King’s books in general are considered “filthy”.
In Bismarck, North Dakota, a minister requested The Dead Zone and eight more of King’s books be banned from school libraries because of “age appropriateness”.

For further research about The Dead Zone‘s challenge/banning history:

THE DEAD ZONE

CHALLENGE/BANNING FACTORS

Stephen King: An Unlikely Lifeline In Turbulent Waters– This isn’t about The Dead Zone in particular, but I found it an interesting essay on the impact of Stephen King, as well as his long history with book censorship.

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende (1982)

About the Book: This one might be a bit of a stretch (and by a bit, I mean a lot), as it’s not a horror/mystery/thriller, but rather a book that falls into the genre of Magical Realism. Clara, who is the wife of Esteban Trueba, has a “mystical connection to the spirit world”. I figured that that’s close enough to add it to this list, and also the synopsis sounded interesting to me, so here we are.

Year Reason for Challenge/Ban
1994It was challenged at Paso Robles High School in California because of accounts of sexual encounters, although it was eventually retained
1997Challenged at Stonewall Jackson High School in Brentsville (Virginia) due to sexual explicitness, and ended up being retained  
1998Challenged to be removed from Montgomery County (Maryland) reading lists and school libraries due to obscenity
1999Challenged at La Costa Canyon High School in Encinitas, California because it “defames the Catholic faith” and contains “pornographic images”
2000Challenged at Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District for being “immoral and sexually depraved”, but was then retained.
2003Challenged in Modesto, California advanced English classes, but was retained with the Modesto City school Board advising that parents are given annotations and other information about any text, along with the right to have the student opt out of reading it.
2013Challenged at Watauga County High School in North Carolina due to the book’s graphic nature. It was retained, but after being appealed three times.

For further research about The House of Spirits‘ challenge/banning history:

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende — Banned Library

Books Challenged or Banned in 2003-2004, by Robert P. Doyle


Thanks for reading! If you want more lists of spooky banned books, here are a couple lists which inspired me to make this one:

Celebrate Banned Books Week with these 7 Banned Horror Books from iHorror.com

13 Scary Banned Books to Read for Halloween – Intellectual Freedom Blog


That’s the end of my Banned Books Week posting! Thank you all who have been following along, and I hope you enjoyed learning more about banned books. I’ll continue posting everyday in honor of my Blog Everyday in October challenge, so on that note, I will see you tomorrow with a new post!

-Erin🎃

If interested, you can donate to the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom

You can also sign the petition for the Literature Locked Up campaign: Tell Congress: Stop the largest book ban in America

While you’re already here, why not check these links out?

Updated carrd of global issues : https://allcards.carrd.co/

Medium: https://medium.com/@erin.nord87

Prose: https://theprose.com/ennord

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