28 Banned/Challenged Multicultural Children’s Books

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Banned Multicultural Children's Books



It’s Banned Books Week‘s 40th anniversary! Launched in 1982 to create awareness of the harm of censorship, it celebrates the freedom to read and express ideas. Each year, many diverse children’s & YA books are challenged and banned.

Celebrate Banned Books Week by reading some of the banned multicultural children’s books on this list!

28 Banned/Challenged Multicultural Children’s Books


The Family Book
by Todd Parr

Banned Multicultural Children's Books

Banned for ‘reference to same-sex parents

Can’t believe this all-time favourite is one of the banned multicultural children’s books! 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

Related: The 100 Best Multicultural Picture Books of 2021

My Princess Boy
by Cheryl Kilodavis

Banned Multicultural Children's Books

Challenged for ‘promoting perversion and the gay lifestyle’

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

Related: 14 Multicultural Children’s Books About Spunky Princesses

This Day in June
by Gayle E. Pitman

Banned Multicultural Children's Books

Challenged for ‘promoting perversion and the gay lifestyle’

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. This is our favourite preschool book on this list of banned multicultural children’s books! ~ Diverse – Preschool

Related: 90 Multicultural LGBTQIA Books for Children & Teenagers

Walter the Farting Dog
by William Kotzwinkle & Glenn Murray

Banned Multicultural Children's Books

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

“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 – Preschool

Related: 10 Laugh-Out-Loud Funny Multicultural Picture Books





Elementary School

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

Banned Multicultural Children's Books

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

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

Related: 45 Multicultural Children’s Books About Bodies, Sex & Consent

Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice
by M. Celano, M. Collins & A. Hazzard

Banned Multicultural Children's Books

Banned for ‘blatant anti-police message’

Emma and Josh heard that something happened in their town. A Black man was shot by the police. They have many questions, from “Why did the police shoot that man?” to “Can police go to jail?” Something Happened in Our Town follows two families — one White, one Black — as they discuss a police shooting of a Black man in their community. The story aims to answer children’s questions about such traumatic events, and to help children identify and counter racial injustice in their own lives. Includes guidelines for discussing race and racism with children. ~ African – Elementary School

Related: 100 Children’s Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination

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

Banned Multicultural Children's Books: The Librarian of Basra

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

“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

Related: 15 Multicultural Children’s Books celebrating Books & Reading

Sex Is a Funny Word: A Book about Bodies, Feelings, and YOU
by Cory Silverbird

Banned Multicultural Children's Books

Banned for ‘LGBTQIA+ content’, ‘discussing gender identity and sex education’, ‘inappropriate title & illustrations’

A comic book that includes children and families of all makeups, orientations, and gender identities, Sex Is a Funny Word is an essential resource about bodies, gender, and sexuality for elementary school children as well as their parents and caregivers. Much more than the “facts of life” or “the birds and the bees,” this engaging book opens up conversations between young people and their caregivers in a way that allows adults to convey their values and beliefs while providing information about boundaries, safety, and joy. This is our favourite elementary school book on this list of banned multicultural children’s books! ~ Diverse – Elementary School

Related: 45 Multicultural Children’s Books About Bodies, Sex & Consent

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

Banned Multicultural Children's Books: Nasreen's Secret School

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

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

Related: 20 Multicultural Children’s Books about School

The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby
by Dav Pilkey

Banned Multicultural Children's Books

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

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

Related: 80+ Multicultural Graphic Novels for Children & Teenagers





Middle School

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

Banned Multicultural Children's Books: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

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

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

Related:  21 Award-winning Children’s Books for Black History Month

Front Desk
by Kelly Yang

Banned Multicultural Children's Books: Front Desk

Banned for being ‘racially divisive’ 

Ten-year-old aspiring writer Mia Tang manages the front desk of a motel where her immigrant parents clean the rooms. If the mean motel owner, Mr Yao, finds out they’ve been letting other immigrants stay in the empty rooms for free, the Tangs will be doomed. Featuring an irresistible protagonist, award-winning Front Desk is an engaging middle-grade novel about immigration, poverty and resilience. Another favourite on this list of banned multicultural children’s books! ~ Asian – Middle School

Related: 30 Multicultural Picture Books about Immigration

The Watsons Go to Birmingham
by Christopher Paul Curtis

Banned Multicultural Children's Books

Banned for ‘violence’ and ‘offensive language’

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

Related: African American Historical Fiction for Middle School

New Kid
by Jerry Craft

New Kid

Banned for ‘promoting Critical Race Theory and Marxism’

Seventh-grader Jordan Banks’ passion is drawing cartoons about his life. He’d love to go to art school but his parents decide to send him to a prestigious private school known for its academics instead. Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds. New Kid is an engaging graphic novel about fitting in and staying true to yourself. This is our favourite middle school book on this list of banned multicultural children’s books! ~ African – Middle School

Also available: Class Act 

Related: 80+ Multicultural Graphic Novels for Children & Teenagers

Ghost Boys
by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Banned Multicultural Children's Books: Ghost Boys

Banned for ‘political views’

After being shot dead by a police officer who mistook his toy gun for a real one, twelve-year-old Jerome observes the aftermath as a ghost. Soon he meets another ghost: Emmett Till, a black boy murdered in 1955. Emmett helps Jerome understand how historical racism may have led to the events that ended his life. Jerome also meets Sarah, the daughter of the police officer, who grapples with her father’s actions. Award-winning Ghost Boys is a gripping and poignant story about racism, bias and the fight for justice. ~ African – Middle School

Related: 100 Children’s Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination

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

Banned Multicultural Children's Books: The Absolutely True Diary

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

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

Related: 100 Native American Children’s Books





High School

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
by Marjane Satrapi

Banned Multicultural Children's Books

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

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

Related: 180+ Asian & Asian American Books For Children & Teenagers

The Hate U Give
by Angi Thomas

The Hate You Give

Banned and challenged for ‘profanity’, ‘violence’, and promoting an anti-police message’

16-year-old Starr is balancing life between her poor neighbourhood and her fancy suburban school. When her unarmed best friend Khalil is killed at the hands of a police officer, his death is making national headlines and protesters are taking to the streets. As the only person who knows what really happened that night, Starr is caught between threats from the police and the local drug lord, protecting her community and risking her own life. No.1 New York Times Bestseller The Hate You Give is a powerful and heart-wrenching novel about police brutality and systemic racism. ~ African – High School

Related: 100 Children’s Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination

The House on Mango Street
by Sandra Cisneros

Banned Multicultural Children's Books: The House On Mango Street

Banned for being ‘associated with Mexican American Studies’ 

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

Related: The 10 Best Multicultural Young Adult Novels of 2016

The Color of Earth
by Kim Dong Hwa

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

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

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

The Poet X
by Elizabeth Acevedo

The Poet X

Banned for being ‘overtly anti-christian’ and explicit’

Growing up in her Dominican community in Harlem, Xiomara Batista has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking. But her deepest thoughts she only shares with her diary in the form of poems, like the frustration about her strict religious mother and her feelings for a classmate. When Xiomara is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she wants to attend but knows her mum would never allow her to. Multi-award-winning The Poet X is a powerful novel-in-verse about the struggles of a young Afro-Latina.

More Pura Belpré award-winning books: Pura Belpré Award Winners 1996 – 2018

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You
by J. Reynolds & I.X. Kendi

Banned Multicultural Children's Books

Banned for ‘not telling the story of racism against all people’

“This is NOT a history book. This is a book about the here and now. A book to help us better understand why we are where we are. A book about race.” Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You is a timely and gripping reimagining of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s award-winning Stamped from the Beginning, revealing the history of racist ideas in America, and inspiring hope for an antiracist future. This is our favourite young adult book on this list of banned multicultural children’s books! ~ African – High School

Related: 100 Children’s Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination

Monday’s Not Coming
by Tiffany D. Jackson

Monday's Not Coming

Challenged for ‘explicit language about sex’

When Claudia’s best friend Monday doesn’t show up for school for two weeks, Claudia knows that something is wrong. But Monday’s mother refuses to give her a straight answer. As Claudia digs deeper into her friend’s disappearance, she discovers that no one seems to remember the last time they saw her. Award-winning Monday’s Not Coming is a gripping novel about one teenage girl’s disappearance. ~ African – High School

Related: 2022 ALA Award-Winning Multicultural Children’s & YA Books

Lawn Boy
by Jonathan Evison

Banned Multicultural Children's Books: Lawn Boy

Banned for ‘profanity and sexual explicit scenes’

Young Chicano Mike Muñoz just got fired from his latest job as a lawn boy. He wants to change his life but just doesn’t seem to get his foot on the first rung of that ladder to success. Only after a challenging trip, he can finally see the future and his place in it. Award-winning Lawn Boy is a vibrant coming-of-age novel about social class distinctions, cultural discrimination, and standing up for oneself. ~ Hispanic – High School

Related: Multicultural 2019 ALA Youth Media Award-Winning Books

All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto
by George M. Johnson

Banned for ‘descriptions of sex between the author and other people’

In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, All Boys Aren’t Blue is a compelling young-adult memoir that weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys. ~ African – High School

Related: 90 Multicultural LGBTQIA Books for Children & Teenagers

Out of Darkness
by Ashley Hope-Pérez
Out of Darkness

Out of Darkness is one of the 2016 Américas Award winning Children’s Books. It tells the moving story of the ill-fated love between a Mexican girl and an African American boy in 1937. Wash Fuller tries to navigate the cruel world of racial divisions, Naomi Smith is terrorized by the sexual advances of her white stepfather, and tries to protect her younger twin siblings. Set against the historical backdrop  of the catastrophic East Texas school explosion, Pérez weaves the fictional stories of the two families together in this compelling novel about segregation, family, forbidden love and destructive forces. ~ Hispanic – High School

Related: 2016 Américas Award-Winning Children’s Books 

All American Boys
by Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely

Banned Multicultural Children's Books: All American Boys

Challenged and banned for ‘anti-police sentiment’, ‘profanity’ and ‘depiction of alcoholism and drug use’

When 16-year-old Rashad goes to buy a packet of chips at the corner shop, he finds himself mistaken for a shoplifter and beaten up by the police. Soon the incident is all over the news and simmering racial tensions get to the point of explosion. Written by two award-winning authors and alternating between the perspectives of one black and one white teenager, All American Boys is a moving novel about privilege and racism that every teenager should read. ~ African – High School

Related: 150 Children’s Books Celebrating Black Boys

by Walter Dean Myers


Challenged for ‘explicit language’ and ‘mature themes’

“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

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

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