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

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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
1977

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

1980

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

1981

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

1984

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

1985

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

1985

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

1995

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

1995

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

1996

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

1996

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

2001

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

2001

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

2003

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

2004

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

2006

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

2007

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

2009

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

2012

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.

2013

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

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