Free to Read: Picture Books

By Skokie Staff Youth Services

We celebrate the freedom to read by highlighting books that have been banned, censored, or challenged in schools and libraries across the country.

  • Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress

    2014 by Baldacchino, Christine

    A boy wearing his favorite dress to school was deemed "not normal" in a challenge brought by a parent in the state of Michigan.

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  • Draw Me a Star

    1992 by Carle, Eric

    Challenged for its illustration of a naked man and woman and "religious undertones," this story recounts an artist's drawing of a star, which begins the creation of an entire universe around them as each successive pictured object requests that they draw more.

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  • Prince & Knight

    2018 by Haack, Daniel

    Accused of having the potential to cause "confusion, curiosity, and gender dysphoria," and challenged for portraying LGBTQIA+ content and a homosexual wedding--and for being “a deliberate attempt to indoctrinate young children"--this heartwarming modern fairy tale portrays a prince and a knight who fall in love while battling a dragon.

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  • Where's Waldo? The Wonder Book

    1997 by Handford, Martin

    With his signature stripes and thick rimmed glasses, Waldo is one of the most recognizable figures in children's-book history. You wouldn't think there could be much controversy over a wordless activity book, but in the 1990s, it was consistently on the list of top 100 banned books in the United States due to a teeny tiny (1/16th of an inch!) topless bather.

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  • I Am Jazz!

    2014 by Herthel, Jessica

    This book presents the story of a transgender child, tracing her early awareness that she is a girl in spite of male anatomy and her family's confusion and, ultimately, their acceptance of her transition. It has been widely challenged and banned for its LGBTQIA+ messages and its use in classroom readings and discussions.

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  • My Princess Boy: A Mom's Story about a Young Boy Who Loves to Dress Up

    2011 by Kilodavis, Cheryl

    Based on the author's son, who loved to dress up in princess clothing, this book was challenged in a Texas public library system for promoting "perversion" and a "gay lifestyle."

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  • The Story of Ferdinand

    1936 by Leaf, Munro

    Ferdinand is not like the other bulls--he is peaceful and content smelling the flowers instead of fighting. Banned by the Nazis as well as the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco for its pacifist theme, this story has remained a beloved classic.

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  • The Three Little Pigs

    1989 by Marshall, James

    This rendition of the classic tale was not only challenged due to its violence, in 2003 it was also challenged for its possible offense to the Muslim community as a story featuring pigs. It is important to note that this challenge did not come directly from the Muslim community.

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  • Heather Has Two Mommies

    2015 by Newman, Lesléa

    As the first picture book to depict two women in a same-sex marriage as parents, this book conveys the idea that "the most important thing about a family is that all the people in it love each other." It is one of the American Library Association's most-banned books of all time.

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  • The Family Book

    2003 by Parr, Todd

    In 2012, an Illinois school district banned this colorful and lovingly inclusive book on account of a single page portraying same-sex parents, stating: "those are issues that shouldn’t be taught at the elementary school level."

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  • This Day in June

    2014 by Pitman, Gayle E.

    Colorful pictures radiate joy and exuberance in this celebratory book. It has also been challenged, as well as burned by a religious activist in Iowa, for its depiction of a Pride parade and affirmation of LGBTQIA+ people.

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  • And Tango Makes Three

    2005 by Richardson, Justin

    A beautifully illustrated true tale of two male penguins who parent a baby penguin together at the Central Park Zoo. Challenged for promoting a "homosexual lifestyle."

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  • It's a Book

    2010 by Smith, Lane

    In the digital vs. print war, books will always win! This book was challenged for its use of the word "jackass" in reference to the donkey character transfixed by the wonders of a good book.

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  • Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

    1997 by Steig, William

    An excellent fairy tale about a donkey that finds a pebble that grants wishes (be careful what you wish for!). Although it has won many awards, including the Caldecott and a Newbery honor, it is also frequently challenged due to its depiction of police officers as pigs.

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