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A Bounty of Books That Were Bizarrely Banned

September 27, 2016

Happy Banned Books Week! While Uncle John believes in the free flow of information, not everybody does. Here are some books that were removed from bookstores and libraries for some odd reasons.
Banned Books Week
Martin Handford’s elaborately detailed Where’s Waldo books were a huge fad in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s as kids (and adults) pored over huge pages filled with hundreds of tiny people to find the titular guy in the red-and-white-striped shirt. One edition of Where’s Waldo also featured an incredibly tiny image of the bare back of a topless woman as part of a beach scene, leading many schools and libraries to pull the title. (When the book was re-released in 1997, the offending image was removed.)
Underage drinking!
There are a lot of things in the original Brothers Grimm version of Little Red Riding Hood that might scar kids for life, particularly the part where the Big Bad Wolf eats Red Riding Hood’s grandmother (after stalking Red Riding Hood for the entirety of the tale). But some school libraries pulled volumes of Grimm’s Fairy Tales because among the treats Red brings to Grandmother’s house in her basket is a bottle of wine.
In 1985, a Wisconsin elementary school library banned Shel Silverstein’s beloved children’s poetry collection Where the Sidewalk Ends because of the poem “How Not to Have to Dry the Dishes,” which jokingly encourages kids to skip washing dishes and break them instead.
Eric Carle (who also wrote The Very Hungry Caterpillar) and Bill Martin’s classic children’s book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? was written as a way to help early readers differentiate between colors by showing them different animals. There’s not even a plot. In 2010, the Texas Board of Education removed the book from schools because Bill Martin had written another book called Ethical Marxism: The Categorical Imperative of Liberation. One problem: that pro-Communist title was by a different Bill Martin. Ethical Marxism was first published in 2008, four years after Brown Bear author Bill Martin had died.

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