7 Of The Most Controversial Young Adult Books Ever Written
You read a book that seems innocent enough for your kid, but another parent in the class points out aspects of the book that horrify you. You didn’t even notice their long list of “no-nos” when you read it! You then tell another parent, and they tell another. Soon the entire class is in agreement to ban a book. Do young adult authors mean that much harm in their innocent stories of teen life and fantasy lands? Each year, the list of banned books seems to grow. To date, these are the most controversial young adult books or series ever written and why.
Book one in His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman is the best-selling book and movie The Golden Compass. The film was a hit in the box office, but not so much with parents. Lyra ventures to the north pole, full of witch clans and armored bears. Lyra is trying to meet her Uncle Asriel, who is building a bridge between worlds. Usually, the literary world praises fierce young girls. This time, parents looked past her bravery and at the underlying themes of the author. Christian organizations stated on multiple occasions that the book attacks them. Pullman explains that it isn’t Christianity, but how people use religious organizations as an excuse for their actions.
A young girl is served a soda laced with LSD, and her entire world is turned upside down. She soon spirals into a world of drug addiction and sexual abuse. Drugs, let alone exchanging sexual favors for drugs, is a hard topic for adults to talk to teens about. In the author’s defense, she depicts the horrors that drug addiction has on a person. Go Ask Alice by no means glamorizes or promotes the use of hard drugs.
It’s not that the main character runs around in underpants that make Dav Pilkey’s book so scandalous that it needs to be banned. Parents say it is because of the use of “potty mouth” language throughout the ten-book series set. Funny enough, Captian Underpants and 50 Shades of Gray were considered banned books in the same year!
Georgia Nicolson captures a teenager’s life in her journal, where she writes about her cat Angus, school, and appearance. While some find Georgia’s diary entries hilarious, others have an issue with a teenage girl referring to her crush as a “Sex God.” The book has upset parents and teachers since its publication in 2001.
Judy Blume, the author of Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, writes a coming of age story about teen sexuality. Forever tells the story of Katherine and Michael. The two are young and in love, thinking that they’ll be together forever. When Katherine and Michael separate for the summer, Katherine finds herself interested in someone else. Blume made enemies with anyone who advocates for abstinence after Forever hit bookshelves in 2014.
An aspiring teen cartoonist living on an Indian reservation decides to hit the road and venture off the reservation. Unhappy with his previous school, Junior goes to an all-white high school in the middle of farm country where the mascot is an Indian. Parents disliked the book because of its use of obscene language and sometimes sexually explicit scenes. Alexie has fought back, saying, “book banners want to control debate and limit the imagination.”
A banned book list wouldn’t be complete without William Golding’s book Lord of the Flies. Once a staple in high school English classes, the book has been seeing less and less of the classroom. A group of kids are stranded on an island, and while they try to keep things civil, things slowly spiral out of control. Parents opposed the book because of racism, violence, obscene language, and damaging statements about God and women. If you look past all of these items, the book warns teens about the dangers of mob mentality and war. One may think that war and mob mentality happens to adults, but Golding shows any age group is susceptible to these themes.
While these are the most controversial young adult book series ever written, you should still consider reading them. You, and your children, should be open to the idea of reading a banned book. Banned books are banned because they are too real, too timely and topical. Certain societal groups feel very strongly about these books’ language or message. Before giving in to one group’s opinion, read for yourself. Nobody ever said you had to finish it!
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