15 Must-Read Banned/Challenged Multicultural Children’s Books

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Banned & Challenged Multicultural Children's Books


It’s Banned Books Week! Launched in 1982 to create awareness of the harm of censorship, this annual event celebrates the freedom to read and express ideas. Each year, many diverse books are among those challenged and banned.

Celebrate Banned Books Week by reading some of these banned/challenged multicultural children’s books:

15 Must-Read Banned/Challenged Multicultural Children’s Books


The Family Book
by Todd Parr

Can’t believe this all-time favourite of ours was actually banned! With his signature quirky style, Todd Parr explores different kinds of families, from adoptive families to step-families, from families with only one parent to families with two moms or two dads and different kind of animal families. The Family Book is a must-have for preschoolers that celebrates our differences and promotes tolerance. ~ Diverse – Preschool

Banned for ‘reference to same-sex parents

My Princess Boy
by Cheryl Kilodavis

Inspired by the author’s son, My Princess Boy tells the story of little Dyson who loves all things pink and sparkly and sometimes wears dresses. This touching picture book about a loving family who supports their son unconditionally is a call to end gender-stereotyping and celebrating our differences instead.  ~ Diverse – Preschool

Challenged for ‘promoting perversion and the gay lifestyle’

This Day in June
by Gayle E. Pitman

With exuberant pictures and joyful text, This Day In June invites young readers to join in a colourful pride celebration. A great first introduction to LGBTQ history and culture, the book also includes information on how to talk to children about sexual orientation and gender identity in age-appropriate ways.  ~ Diverse – Preschool

Challenged for ‘promoting perversion and the gay lifestyle’

Walter the Farting Dog
by William Kotzwinkle & Glenn Murray

“Wouldn’t you know, two burglars break in, and Walter’s liability becomes his asset.” Walter is a fine dog, except for one small problem: He has gas. Billy and Betty love him regardless, but their parents say he’s got to go. But then one night, burglars strike and Walter has his chance to be a hero. A beloved classic featuring a multiracial family, Walter the Farting Dog will have kids rolling on the floor with laughter. ~ Diverse – PreschoolElementary School

Challenged for ‘using the words “fart” and farting” twenty-four times’

More laugh out loud funny books: 10 Laugh Out Loud Funny Multicultural Picture Books

More picture books with multiracial families: 50+ Picture Books about Mixed Race Families

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Elementary School

It’s So Amazing!: A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families
by Robie H. Harris

With engaging comic-style illustrations and lively text, It’s So Amazing! answers the many questions children have about reproduction, sex and sexuality. From basic anatomy, conception, and fetal development, to love, birth, genetics, and adoption, this straightforward book provides factual information in an age-appropriate manner. It also sensitively touches on sexual abuse and HIV. ~ Diverse – Elementary School

Banned for ‘frontal nudity’ ‘discussion of homosexual relationships, masturbation and abortion’

The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq
by Jeanette Winter

Multicultural Children's Books celebrating books & reading: The Librarian of Basra

“In the Koran, the first thing God said to Muhammad was ‘Read.’” When war comes to Iraq, librarian Alia Muhammad Baker takes matters into her own hands to protect the books from being destroyed. Every day she packs her car with books and takes them home, thus saving 70% of the 30,000 books in her library. The Librarian of Basra is a true story about an inspiring woman’s love of literature and respect for knowledge.  ~ Asian – Elementary School

Challenged for ‘promoting a non-Christian religion’ and ‘being too violent for young readers’

More books about libraries and reading: 15 Multicultural Children’s Books celebrating Books & Reading

Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan
by Jeanette Winter

Multicultural Children's Books celebrating books & reading: Nasreen's Secret School

Since her parents were taken by the Taliban, little Nasreen has not spoken a word. In a desperate attempt to draw her out of her shell of sadness, her grandmother sends her to a secret school for girls. Reading books slowly helps Nasreen back into life. Nasreen’s Secret School is a powerful true story from Afghanistan, told in a matter-of-fact style and complemented by precise acrylic paintings in muted reds, greens and yellows. ~ Asian – Elementary School

Challenged for ‘promoting a non-Christian religion’ and ‘being too violent for young readers’

More books about school: 20 Multicultural Children’s Books about School

The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby
by Dav Pilkey

George and Harold, the two prank-loving boys from the Captain Underpants comics, are in trouble again. As punishment, they have to write a report on “good citizenship,” and they are not allowed to make it about Captain Underpants. So they create an all-new superhero . . . Super Diaper Baby! Follow The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby as his archenemy, Deputy Dangerous, wants to steal his powers and take over the planet. ~ Diverse – Elementary School

Challenged for ‘inappropriate scatological storyline’. Banned for ‘containing the phrase “poo poo head”‘

Middle School

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
by Mildred D. Taylor

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Set in Mississippi at the height of the Depression, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry tells of one family’s struggle to maintain their integrity, pride, and independence in the face of racism and social injustice. This classic masterpiece focuses on Cassie Logan, an independent girl who discovers why having land of their own is so crucial to the Logan family, and learns to draw strength from her own sense of dignity and self-respect. ~ African – Middle School

Banned for ‘insensitivity’, ‘racial bias’, and ‘offensive language’ 

More award-winning books about Black History:  21 Award-winning Children’s Books for Black History Month

The Watsons Go to Birmingham
by Christopher Paul Curtis

Meet the “Weird Watsons”: 10-year-old Kenny, his mom, dad, little sister Joetta and older brother Byron. When Byron gets into too much trouble, the family drives to Alabama to visit Grandma, the one person who can shape him up. It’s 1963, and little does the family know that they are heading straight into one of the most horrific moments in America’s history: the bombing of a church that killed four little girls. Award-winning The Watsons Go To Birmingham is both hilarious and heartbreaking – a modern classic that every middle grader should read.  ~ African – Middle School

Banned for ‘violence’ and ‘offensive language’

More historical fiction: African American Historical Fiction for Middle School

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
by Sherman Alexie

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: The Absolutely True Diary

Junior, an aspiring cartoonist, leaves his school on the Spokane Reservation to attend an all-white farm town school. Based on the author’s own experiences, The Absolute True Diary of a Part-time Indian is a heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written novel about the contemporary adolescence of a Native American boy. Illustrated with poignant cartoon-style drawings. ~ Diverse – Middle School, High School

Banned for being ‘anti-family’, ‘sexually explicit’ and ‘unsuitable for age group’

More books featuring Native Americans: 32 Native American Children’s Books


High School

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
by Marjane Satrapi

Persepolis is a powerful and poignant account of growing up during the Islamic Revolution. In striking black-and-white comic strips, the author tells the story of her childhood in Tehran – a childhood that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. ~ Asian – High School

Banned for ‘graphic illustrations’, ‘offensive language’ and ‘political viewpoint’

More books with Asian & Asian American characters: 30 Asian & Asian American Children’s Books (Ages 0 – 18)

The House on Mango Street
by Sandra Cisneros

Hispanic Multicultural Children's Books - High School: The House On Mango Street

The House on Mango Street tells the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero, a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago. In short poems and stories – some heartbreaking, others full of joy – Esperanza expresses her thoughts and feelings about her oppressive environment. Acclaimed by critics and often used in schools and universities, this classic has been translated all over the world and should be on every young adult’s bookshelf. ~ Hispanic – High School

Banned for being ‘associated with Mexican American Studies’ 

More Young Adult novels: The 10 Best Multicultural Young Adult Novels of 2016

The Color of Earth
by Kim Dong Hwa

The first book in a trilogy, The Color of Earth is a coming-of-age story in the form of a manwha, the Korean equivalent of a manga. It follows young Ehwa as she grows up helping her widowed mother run the local tavern. When she sees her mother fall in love again, Ehwa begins to open up to the possibility of love, too. ~ Asian – High School

Banned for ‘nudity’, ‘sex education’, ‘sexual explicitness’, ‘unsuitability for age group’

Other books in the trilogy: The Color of Water // The Color of Heaven

by Walter Dean Myers

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: Monster

“Sometimes I feel like I have walked into the middle of a movie. Maybe I can make my own movie. The film will be the story of my life. No, not my life, but of this experience. I’ll call it what the lady prosecutor called me … Monster.” Multi-award-winning Monster chronicles the unfair court proceedings for Steve Harmon, a teenager accused of murder and robbery. Written as a screenplay playing in Steve’s imagination, coupled with his journal entries, this heart-wrenching novel highlights the racism deeply ingrained in the American justice system. ~ African – High School

Challenged for ‘explicit language’ and ‘mature themes’

Also available as a stunning black-and-white graphic novel adaptation: Monster: A Graphic Novel

*You can buy any of the books on this site from Amazon USA, CAN or UK by clicking on the book titles or images*

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