(BANNED) Book of the Week 9/26-9/30
In honor of Banned Books Week, today’s book of the week is The Catcher in the Rye (1945) by J.D. Salinger.
One of the most banned books in American history, The Catcher in the Rye tells the story of Holden Caulfield, a sixteen-year-old high school boy who runs away from his boarding school for a weekend in New York City. Holden’s unique narrative voice (driven by teenage slang & logic but betraying a wisdom beyond his years) and his longing to protect innocence and beauty in a changing world have moved generations of readers. A 20th century classic, this coming-of-age novel is frequently assigned as required reading in many high schools and colleges across the U.S.
Surprised to learn this book was banned? Here’s some history:
In 1960: A high school english teacher in Tulsa, Oklahoma is fired for teaching “The Catcher in the Rye”
In 1963: Parents in Columbus, Ohio petition the school board to remove the book from schools on the grounds that it is “anti-white” and “obscene.”
In 1982: Removed from two Anniston, Alabama high school libraries due to sexual content, but later reinstated on a restrictive basis.
In 1988: Challenged at the Linton-Stockton, Indiana High School because the book is “blasphemous and undermines morality.”
In 1993: The novel was challenged as required reading in the Corona Norco, California Unified School District (1993) because it is “centered around negative activity.”
Think this was all in the past?
In 2002, The Cather in the Rye was removed from libraries in Summerville, South Carolina school district for being what one school district board member called a “filthy, filthy book”. It was again challenged at Big Sky High School in Missoula, Montana in 2009. For a full list and history challenges to The Catcher in the Rye, see the ALA Banned and/or Challenged Books list.
What other books have been banned?
Many favorites, classics, and popular novels have been banned at different times and in different states. Here’s just a small sampling of books banned in U.S. libraries and schools over the years:
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
- Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
- Beloved, Toni Morrison
- The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey
- Slaughterhouse 5, Kurt Vonnegut (banned as recently as 2011)
- Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie
- Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling
- Twilight, Stephenie Meyer
- Brave New World, Adolfus Huxley
- The Diary of Anne Frank, Anne Frank
- To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee