‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ remains among top banned classical novels

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Digital reporter/producer, Race Matters and education

Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird” is one of the most challenged and banned classical novels. Photo by Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor/Getty Images

“To Kill A Mockingbird,” considered one of the best novels of the 20th century, is also one of the most controversial. According to the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, the Harper Lee novel is one of the most challenged and banned classical books. Many of these objections come from parents, school administrators or advocacy groups who contend that its racially and sexually-charged themes are inappropriate for young readers.

Chris Sergel, vice president of Dramatic Publishing, once acknowledged they receive many requests for specific words to be changed or removed, but they’re always denied them.

“Being uncomfortable with history is not means to change it,” he said. “People need to figure out how to confront issues.”

Most of the school and library challenges have been unsuccessful, but some managed to have the novel removed, even if only temporarily. Still, “To Kill A Mockingbird” remains banned in many classrooms and public libraries around the country and the world today.

Here is a look at some notable challenges of “To Kill A Mockingbird” over the decades since its release:

Notable “To Kill A Mockingbird” challenges and bans

Challenged and temporarily banned in Eden Valley, Minn., for vulgar language.


Challenged in Vernon-Verona Sherrill School District (N.Y.) for content, called “filthy” and “trashy.”


Challenged in Warren, Ind., by black parents who felt it represented “institutionalized racism under the guise of good literature.”


Challenged in the Waukegan School District (Ill.) for use of racial slurs.


Challenged in Kansas City and Park Hill, Mo., middles schools for profanity and racial slurs.


Challenged by local NAACP & black parents of Casa Grande Elementary School District (Ariz.) for sexual and racial content.


Challenged in Santa Cruz, Calif., schools for racial content.


Banned in Southwood High School in Caddo Parish, La., for profanity and racial content.


Challenged in Moss Point (Miss.) School District for racial slurs.


Banned in Lindale, Texas, for content that “conflicted with the values of the community.”


Challenged by a Glynn County School Board (Ga.) member because of profanity.


Challenged at Muskogee High School (Okla.) for use of racial slurs.


Challenged at Normal Community High School (Ill.) for racial slurs and content.


Challenged at Stanford Middle School in Durham, N.C., for use of racial slurs.


Challenged at Brentwood Middle School (Tenn.) for profanity, racial slurs and sexual content.


Challenged by residents of Cherry Hill, N.J., for racial slurs and content. Challenged rejected by board of education.


Banned in St. Edmund Campion Secondary School in Brampton, Ont., for use of racial slurs.


A student at Colleyville Heritage High School in Texas was given an alternate book assignment when parents challenged the novel’s use for racial and political content.


Plaquemines Parish School Board in Belle Chasse, La., lifts a 12-year ban on the novel.

Source: American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom