Itâ€™s Banned Books Week, a celebration of the freedom to read. In honor of this occasion, we compiled a list of popular health-related books that are victims of censorship. The titles below have all been either challenged or outright banned by various organizations.
Are You There God? Itâ€™s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
One of the ultimate coming-of-age stories for girls, Margaret is still popular with readers 30 years after it was released. Reading this book is a rite of passage for pre-teen girls in America. It approaches the sometimes-awkward moments of puberty with humor and assures girls that everything they go through is perfectly normal. (Blume is the second most-banned author in American historyâ€”top prize goes to Stephen King.) Margaret was reproached for being sexually offensive and amoral. It was alsoÂ targeted for its â€œanti-Christianâ€ messageâ€”presumably because the main character is half-Jewish. ($7, amazon.com)
Our Bodies, Ourselves: A Book by and for Women by Boston Womenâ€™s Health Collective
This book was at the forefront of the 1960s Feminist Movement. It is credited with positively altering the relationship between doctors and female patients. Bodies attempted to provide women with the information needed to take control of their medical decisions. It was revolutionary and controversial for its candid discussion ofÂ taboo subjectsâ€”such as the mechanics of sex, birth control, childbirth, and lesbianism. ($15, amazon.com)
Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
Alice, released in 1971, chronicles a teenage girlâ€™s descent into drug addiction. It is presented in a first-person account and serves as a chilling anti-drug testimonial. The book is consistently toward the top of the 100 most commonly banned books, landing in hot water for its use of profanity and explicit references to runaways, drugs, sex, and prostitution. ($6, amazon.com)
One Flew Over the Cuckooâ€™s Nest by Ken Kesey
This classic novel is set in a mental ward and explores hospital bureaucracy and the inner workings of the human mind. Nest has been banned in multiple cities. Parents have deemed it pornographicâ€”citing descriptions of bestiality, violence, torture, and deathâ€”and criticized the book for its potential to corrupt adolescents. ($7, amazon.com)
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
While never banned outright, this popular novel has been, at times, denounced and heavily censored. Chopinâ€™s strikingly feminist, turn-of-the-century novel was rejected by contemporary critics who objected to the protagonistâ€™s budding independence and sexuality. Though censors condemned the perceived vulgarity, morbidity, and sexual explicitness in Awakening, it remains a popular title in high school curricula. ($13, amazon.com)
Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi
This book was translated from its original Japanese in the early 1990s. The premise is simple: everybody poops. Animals poop, adults poop, children poop. How could someone challenge a book as straightforward and factual as that? Yet in 1993, Publishers Weekly decided that number 2 was â€œan unsuitable picture book subject.â€ There have been challenges reported as recently as 2009. Some school libraries have even banned Everyone Poops from their shelves. ($15, amazon.com)
Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
First published in 1989, this book was decades before its time. While same-sex couples are more widely accepted in 2014, Mommies remains one of the first depictions of same-sex parenting in a childrenâ€™s picture book. The book has been banned by religious organizations and schools alike for featuring homosexuality and was the 9th most banned book of the 1990s. ($25, amazon.com)
Check out more popular banned books on the American Library Association's website.