Books under Fire: A Hit List of Banned and Challenged Children's Books

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Many things have changed since ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) was founded in 1967, but not everything: the most beloved and popular children's books are still among the most frequent targets of censorship and outright bans. Limiting access to controversial titles such as Captain Underpants, The Dirty Cowboy, Blubber, or Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark or leaving them out of a library's collection altogether is not the answer to challenges. In this important book, Scales gives librarians the information and guidance they need to defend challenged books with an informed response while ensuring access to young book lovers. Spotlighting dozens of "hot button" titles written for young children through teens, this book

  • Gives a profile of each book that covers its plot, characters, published reviews, awards and prizes, and author resources
  • Recounts past challenges and how they were faced, providing valuable lessons for handling future situations, plus a list of other books challenged for similar reasons 
  • Provides discussion ideas for planning programming around banned books, whether in reading groups, classrooms, or other settings
  • Includes an appendix of additional resources for librarians who find themselves enmeshed in a challenge

With this guide at hand, library managers, children's and YA librarians, and other library staff will be prepared to champion intellectual freedom for young people.


Foreward, by Barbara M. JonesPreface 

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie and illustrated by Ellen ForneyThe Fighting Ground, by AviBlubber, by Judy BlumeUncle Bobby's Wedding, by Sarah S. BrannenMy Mom's Having a Baby!, by Dori Hillestad Butler and illustrated by Carol ThompsonMommy Laid on Egg! or, Where Do Babies Come From?, by Babette ColeMy Brother Sam is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher CollierThe Hunger Games, by Suzanne CollinsThe Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963, by Christopher Paul CurtisJulie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead GeorgeSummer of My German Soldier, by Bette GreeneDead Man in Indian Creek, by Mary Downing HahnIt's Perfectly Normal: A Book about Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health, by Robie H. Harris and illustrated by Michael EmberleyDairy of a Wimpy Kid series, by Jeff KinneyAnastasia Krupnik series, by Lois LowryThe Giver, by Lois LowryShiloh, by Phyllis Reynolds NaylorAlice series, by Phyllis Reynolds NaylorJunie B. Jones series, by Barbara Park and illustrated by Denise BrunkusThe Family Book, by Todd ParrBridge to Terabithia, by Katherine PatersonThe Higher Power of Lucky, by Susan PatronHarris and Me: A Summer Remembered, by Gary PaulsenMexican WhiteBoy, by Matt de la PenaCaptain Underpants series, by Dav PilkeyIn Our Mothers' House, by Patricia PolaccoAnd Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell and illustrated by Henry ColeHarry Potter series, by J. K. RowlingScary Stories series, by Alvin SchwartzHow to Get Suspended and Influence People, by Adam SelzerBone series, by Jeff SmithRoll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D. TaylorThe Dirty Cowboy, by Amy Timberlake and illustrated by Adam RexStuck in Neutral, by Terry Trueman 


Pat R. Scales

Pat R. Scales is a retired middle and high school librarian whose programs have been featured on the Today Show and in various professional journals. She has also served as an adjunct instructor of children’s and young adult literature at Furman University and has been a guest lecturer at universities across the nation. A First Amendment advocate, she is a former chair of ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee and serves on the Board of Advisors of the National Coalition against Censorship. She is a past president of the Association of Library Service for Children, and in 2011 received the Distinguished Service Award. She chaired the 1992 Newbery Award Committee, the 2003 Caldecott Award Committee, and the 2001 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award Committee. She writes for Book Links magazine and a bimonthly column for School Library Journal. Her books include Books under Fire: A Hit List of Banned and Challenged Children's Books, Second EditionTeaching Banned Books: 32 Guides for Children and Teens, Second Edition, and Protecting Intellectual Freedom in Your School Library. She was recipient of The Freedom to Read Foundation's 2023 Roll of Honor Award.

Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF)

ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) is charged with implementing the intellectual freedom policies of the American Library Association through educating librarians and the public about the concept of intellectual freedom as embodied in the Library Bill of Rights, the Association's basic policy on free access to libraries and library materials. In order to meet its educational goals, the Office undertakes information, support, and coordination activities.

"This is an excellent directory, guiding professionals to articles, books, and websites that will assist in helping to protect that right, providing an arsenal of information from creating a display to raise awareness to having a conversation with a concerned reader. Concise and clear, this 'hit list' is a must-have for any professional collection and also an inspiration for reading some titles never explored before—controversy will always make a title more enticing."

"Contains a veritable arsenal of information to employ when the book challenger comes knocking at the library's door … clearly indispensable and belongs in every library collection."
— Booklist (starred review)

"Any youth librarian that has this title within easy reach will be ready to program with challenged materials, discuss intellectual freedom issues with kids and grown ups, and respond intelligently to book challenges."
— School Library Journal