Banning books is alive and and well in America – and Arizona

Some Arizona parents had a problem.

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

They didn’t want their kids reading a cartoon book about a sperm named Willy.

These parents, in Chandler, asked that Nicholas Allan’s book “Where Willy Went” be moved to a restricted area of the library because the book is all about sex, according to the Banned Book Map.

Never mind that Willy is drawn like a little smiley tadpole or that sex is something kids will learn about – either from Willy or on the playground where their friends will probably give them all kinds of weird misinformation.

Yes, banning books and other materials is still alive and well in America – something we should note as we are the midst of The American Libraries Association Banned Books Week, which runs through Oct. 3.

In addition to the illustrated Willy book, Chandler parents challenged an audiotape of George Carlin’s “When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?” and a CD of Robin Williams narrating a fairy tale.

No explanation was given about the reasons behind challenging the recordings, but perhaps Robin Williams starts off the CD with his annoying “Good Morning, Vietnam” or something.

Banning a book or any other material just adds to its allure – the same way an artist’s work skyrockets in value after the artist drops dead.

Other books that have been banned throughout the years double as literary classics.

The Art Institute of Tucson Library’s Facebook page contains a list of books that have been banned or challenged for various reasons.

While Willy is not on the list, it does contain several others that many of us have probably been forced to read against our will – and ended up enjoying immensely.

Wish someone would have banned “Moby Dick” when it was on my college syllabus.

List of banned books, courtesy of The Art Institute of Tucson Library:

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Catcher in the Rye
Great Gatsby
Grapes of Wrath
To Kill a Mockingbird
The Color Purple
Lord of the Flies
Of Mice and Men
Catch 22
A Farewell to Arms
Invisible Man
Satanic Verses
Sons & Lovers
Tropic of Cancer
Harry Potter books
The Bastard of Istanbul
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Half of a Yellow Sun

I remember once trying to read “Tropic of Cancer,” just because there was so much hullabaloo about it. But I don’t remember being shocked or even enjoying it much.

Perhaps I should go read about Willy instead.


Have you read any of these banned books?

Are there books you won’t let your children read? Is it because of their age or because you don’t agree with the book’s content?

Do you agree with banning or restricting books for various reasons? What are those reasons?


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at
This entry was posted in art, danger, life, politics, Stupidity and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

64 Responses to Banning books is alive and and well in America – and Arizona

  1. RedShoeArtist says:

    I’ve read most of the books listed on here and had no idea, other than the Salman Rushdie one, that they’re were banned. There aren’t that many banned books in Australia.
    It seems a bit small minded to ban an educational book about Willy. Do they think that if they ban it, that it will just go away and disappear. If anything it does the opposite. When will these people realise that is human nature and really they should limit their control freakdom within the confines of their spice cupboard.

    • Rynski says:

      Thanks for your input, RedShoeArtist – i agree folks who engage in such banning are small minded – and unrealistic. also love your poetic last line: “they should limit their control freakdom within the confines of their spice cupboard.” hahaha.
      glad australia is more open about reading materials.

  2. azmouse says:

    I’ve also read almost all the books on the list. You don’t want to be a suspected killer and have the police search your house and find Catcher In The Rye. It’ll probably help get you convicted. (I keep my copy well hidden)

    It’s touchy when you have kids and it depends on their age. I don’t encourage banning a book, but sometimes I may want the opportunity to read it first or be the one to read it to them so I can answer the questions that may pop up.

    Willy the sperm sounds cute, though! lol

    • Jennatoolz says:

      I agree with you AZmouse…I don’t think they should ban any books. If a parent feels a book is not fit for their children, then it should simply be up to their discretion. Why go to the extent of banning a book when other parents may not mind their children reading that book? Some people…

      • azmouse says:

        Hi Jennatoolz,
        I hear ya. People get a little extreme sometimes, but I know most really mean well and are trying to look out for their children and have the best intentions.

      • koreyk says:

        I’m with you Jennatoolz.  No book should ever be banned…not even Ann Coulter’s!

    • Rynski says:

      good point on letting each parent decide what his or her own kid reads – not what the every other child in the neighborhood should read –
      also, probably books like “HIT MAN: A Technical Manual for Independant Contractors” need to be hidden more than “Catcher in the Rye” – haha

    • koreyk says:

      Hey azmouse, are you saying you’re a suspected killer?

      • azmouse says:

        With all the true crime books I’ve read in my lifetime, it has made some people wonder……
        Some men friends in the past thought I’d be to good at committing murder and not getting caught, which made them very uncomfortable. lol

  3. Jennatoolz says:

    Wow, I’ve read a couple of those books listed…and only because they were required by my class in high school. We read them and analysed them (which I really hated). I didn’t know that they were banned! I’m honestly shocked to see Harry Potter is on that list too!

    • Rynski says:

      yes, harry potter – some folks are frightened by magic!!!

      • leftfield says:

        Harry Potter generally makes the list for religious reasons.  Some folks are so convinced of the superiority of their superstitions that they do not want alternate versions of the supernatural competing with them.

      • Ado says:

        Hey Lefty,
        Ya got it right for once. Congratulations!

        But hey,  doesn’t the Communist Party ban any books with a religious or supernatural theme? Or is “god” no longer an anti-communist opiate of the masses, and the party allows gods other than the official state god to be considered and possibly even read & worshipped?

      • leftfield says:

        Which Communist Party, Ado? 

  4. azmouse says:

    Isn’t there a book about two male penguins raising a baby penguin that people are in an uproar about?

  5. Jennatoolz says:

    I should also add that I do remember having to have my mom sign a permission form so that I could read those books during class. She gladly signed it with no qualms since in my case, my mom was just happy that I was reading at all. Maybe that should be the attitude some of these book-banning parents have? =P

  6. Carolyn Classen says:

    I too have read most of the books on that banned list.  I remember reading a clandestine copy of  “Peyton Place” in high school, but when I re-read it years later I was surprised how tame it was due to changes in society’s values and levels of acceptance.  Several of those banned books were on our required reading list at my high school in Hawaii.

    • Rynski says:

      i remember NOT being allowed to read “wifey” when i was a kid. not that i’d even think about it until i was told i was not allowed.
      when i did read it years later, i, too, found it tame. was sorely disappointed.

  7. azmouse says:

    I recall in middle school being required to read,
    Grapes of Wrath
    To Kill a Mockingbird
    Lord of the Flies
    Of Mice and Men. and
    (not on the list) Flowers in the Attic.

    I thought they were all really good and have read them again as an adult.
    My youngest son (16) is currently reading War and Peace.

  8. Carolyn Classen says:

    Pima County public library has some programs on Celebrating Banned Books Week including some pizza parties for teens:

  9. Karen Nelson says:

    Banning books is such a controlling, mind-altering, selfish, unconstitutional, immoral,  self-righteous waste of time! Thant’s just my humble opinion.

  10. Perri says:

    1984? Seriously? What’s so obscene about that?

  11. tiponeill says:

    I owe my education to religion’s penchant for banning books.
    I was in a Catholic high school which had a set of Britannica’s Great Books of the Western World proudly displayed.
    The books are numbered which made it apparent that there were many volumes missing, so I asked and discovered that those were on the Index of Forbidden Books.
    So I had my reading list for the next couple of years.

  12. koreyk says:

    Imagine if book banners were sports coaches.

    “You know how much we hate the opposition, so you are forbidden from watching their past game tapes.  In fact, I’m gonna burn ’em all just in case one of you gets some crazy idea.

  13. leftfield says:

    I noticed that “Henry the Farting Dog” is not on the list.  I know that it is banned in my nephews’ house.  I gave it to them for Xmas.  It lasted only a few days before my sister-in-law got tired of hearing the kids say “fart” and then giggle uncontrollably.

  14. DHN says:

    I’m tired of the American Library Association’s annual publicity stunt about book banning.  It falls somewhere between disingenuous and dishonest.  Not one of those books is banned.  Requiring parental permission for a public library to give children access to a book is not “banning” it. 

    • Jennatoolz says:

      Right, thats where I keep getting confused. When I hear/see that a book is “banned,” it makes me think that no person under any circumstance can read or be in possession of that book. Just like smoking is “banned” from inside buildings here…you just can’t do it! They should find a different word to use other than the word “ban”. Or better yet, maybe they should rate books like they do movies! Rated PG, PG 13, etc.

  15. erniemccray says:

    Like some of you I’ve read most of the books on this list. To Kill a Mockingbird just might be the top of my list of favorite books. But you know very little shocks me, having come into the world in April of ’38 in the Old Pueblo, as a COLORED person, according to my birth certificate – but Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” made a banned books list? That’s shocking to me, pure lunacy. I’d love to see the guide for banning. Is there such a thing somewhere, Rynski? Looks like an assignment for you, or for me for that matter.

    • Rynski says:

      Hiya erniemccray –
      Books are banned and/or challenged for many reasons. Here’s an excerpt from the American Library Assoc. website:
      Often challenges are motivated by a desire to protect children from “inappropriate” sexual content or “offensive” language. The following were the top three reasons cited for challenging materials as reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom:

      the material was considered to be “sexually explicit”
      the material contained “offensive language”
      the materials was “unsuited to any age group”

      The site also notes the difference between a “ban” and a “challenge”:
      A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group.  A banning is the removal of those materials.  Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others.  Due to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens, most challenges are unsuccessful and most materials are retained in the school curriculum or library collection.
      hope that helps!

      • azmouse says:

        Didn’t some folks want to also ban Tom Sawyer at one time?

      • erniemccray says:

        Hey, thanks for breaking it down into some news I can use. I love the subjects you come up with and this whole website allows me to feel close to my hometown from my desk in San Diego (my home since ’62) which you graced not too long ago.

      • Rynski says:

        thanks, erniemccray!
        and lucky you to live in gorgeous san diego!

  16. radmax says:

    What’s wrong with learning about life’s mysteries the way we did as kids; conjecture, rumors, guessing and out and out lies!…it’s the American way.

  17. mорское says:

    “be moved to a restricted area of the library because the book is all about sex”

    i do not believe in book banning but i do not think that moving it to a restricted area constitutes banning anymore than keeping playboy out of the view and reach of children is banning.

    this may be the parent’s approach.

  18. Ado says:

    Books ought not be banned, I have no problem with that at all.
    Likewise, the right of a parent to control what their children read regarding sexual matters(no matter how innocuous or innocent) should not be restricted either. As a parent, I want to be able to determine what type of sexually oriented reading material my child reads. Restricting access to kids seems a reasonable approach. Let the child obtain parental consent if they want to check out a book that has a sexual theme.

  19. leftfield says:

    Speaking of banning writings, I have been unable to post replies here today.

  20. leftfield says:

    Nope, doesn’t work here either.  Must be the copy and paste the website won’t accept.

  21. leftfield says:

    It’s a difficult issue, this business of parental supervision and control of influences on their children.  If they have complete control over what their children cannot read, do they also have control over what their children must read?  If a book objectionable to the parents is assigned reading material in class, should the parents have veto power and the option to select another book more to their liking?  When does parental control become a tool for abuse?  We allow societal intervention based on the “best interests of the child”, but what do we do when the parents’  notion of best interests is in conflict with generally held concepts of best interests?

    My head is starting to hurt.

    • radmax says:

      Tough call Lefty. While some parents obviously should not have been allowed to have children in the first place,(i.e. the Paynes come to mind) I believe the parents should have the final say in this matter.

      • radmax says:

        Clarification. Regarding their OWN children. Not everybody elses. I know how some like to take off on a tangent around here…

  22. Margie says:

    Every time I read about books being banned, I get all worked up. Why don’t these people who push to ban the books, also ban the Bible. It is full of stories of incest (red about Lot and his daughters), adulterous affairs, (read about David) and wars and bloody rampages. People should remmeber that when you point a finger at someon, there are three pointing back at yourself.

  23. tiponeill says:

    The “parental rights” thing is always used by the right to force their views on everyone – that is their way.
    If a parent doesn’t want their child to read something, it is their job to tell their child not to read it – they don’t have the right to hide it away from my child and make me have to do something to make it available to my child.
    It is just the huge feeling of entitlement of the religious.
    I certainly never wanted my kids exposed to things like bible stories books that were lying around everywhere, but I didn’t find it necessary to have them banned.

    • Ado says:

      Hey Tippy,  the Christian Bible has already been banned in schools for many decades now. It’s not necessary to ask to have it banned.

      • tiponeill says:

        “Hey Tippy,  the Christian Bible has already been banned in schools for many decades now.”

        That would be a “lie” or an “untruth” or, to a christian, “common knowledge”.
        The bible, as well as bible stories books, are unfortunately available to warp little minds both in public libraries and school libraries, right alongside Harry Potter.

  24. mорское says:

    “The “parental rights” thing is always used by the right to force their views on everyone – that is their way”

    let’s ban all parental rights, unless of course they happen to be a left parent, cause they always do it right …. wait, not right so it must be left.

    easy to blame one’s own issues on others …….. including parental failures.

  25. tiponeill says:

    “let’s ban all parental rights, unless of course they happen to be a left parent”
    You are being incoherent again moppy – there was no “unless” in my post – I was quite clear that I disapproved of parents trying to ban books, even “left parents” like myself.

  26. Griffin says:

    The twilight books also have,where the wild things are have,and also Hatchet,The River,And Bryan Returns have been banned

  27. beezle says:

    Some books should be banned…but only if they make a crappy movie out of it. 😉

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