Are These Topics Too Adult for the Youngest Readers? Take a Look.
These children’s picture books have been banned. To some, the topics — racism, sexuality, transgender identity and gay relationships — are not appropriate for very young readers.
Book Restrictions and Challenges
Over the past three years, there has been a notable increase in the number of books being removed from schools and challenged in libraries. While much attention is given to graphic novels and classics, such as Toni Morrison's “Beloved”, picture books for young children have not been spared from restrictions and removals. According to PEN America, many of these books feature protagonists who are L.G.B.T.Q. or people of color.
Those advocating for book restrictions argue that they are protecting young children from topics they may not be emotionally ready for or that they shouldn't encounter at all. On the other hand, proponents of accessible literature believe it is crucial for young people to learn about different characters and see their own lives represented in books.
Book restrictions have spread across the country through various means. Parents and organizations create lists of books they deem inappropriate, often used as references by communities seeking to limit certain books. Individuals can challenge books through their local school district, and some states have enacted laws resulting in the removal of numerous books.
Banned and Challenged Picture Books
Here are a few examples of picture books that have been banned or challenged in public school districts, along with the objections raised by their critics:
1. And Tango Makes Three: This book, about two male penguins raising a chick, was pulled from Florida school districts due to a state law prohibiting instruction on sexual orientation.
2. Worm Loves Worm: A conservative group in Florida objected to this book, where two worms in love plan their wedding, believing it promotes an L.G.B.T.Q. agenda.
3. Can I Touch Your Hair?: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship: This collection of poems, exploring how children experience race, was flagged for controversial racial commentary.
4. Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag: Celebrating gay rights activist Harvey Milk and the creation of the Gay Pride flag, this book ranked as one of the most banned picture books.
5. I Am Jazz: Based on the experience of its co-author Jazz Jennings, this book about a transgender child was also one of the most banned books.
6. Milo Imagines the World: This book, which won awards, raised concerns due to its references to incarceration and an illustration of a same-sex wedding.
7. The 1619 Project: Born on the Water: Banned in Texas and Florida, this book explores a student's family lineage and the impact of slavery on her ancestors.
8. Sex Is a Funny Word: A Book About Bodies, Feelings, and You: This book discussing diverse families and gender identities received criticism for its graphic illustrations and alternative gender ideologies.
9. Sofia Valdez, Future Prez: Highlighted as problematic by a book-rating website, this book about a girl advocating for a new park contained a character wearing a hat with a Gay Pride symbol.
The banning and challenging of children's picture books has become more common, with objections raised against topics like racism, sexuality, transgender identity, and gay relationships. While some argue for restricting access to these books to protect young readers, others believe it is important for children to encounter characters different from themselves and see their own lives reflected in literature.
Book restrictions have spread through various methods, including the creation of lists by parents and organizations, individual challenges, and new state laws. A number of well-known picture books have faced bans or challenges, often due to objections about sexual orientation, racial commentary, or alternative gender ideologies.
The debate over book accessibility for young readers continues, highlighting the ongoing struggle between protecting children and fostering diversity in literature.