Banned Books 2021 – I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Marshall University does not ban books! The information is provided to let people know what has been banned/challenged elsewhere.


The Matanuska-Susitna (Mat-Su) Borough School District School Board in Palmer, Alaska, voted 5–2 to remove five books identified as controversial from the school curriculum: The Things They Carried, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Catch-22, Invisible Man, and The Great Gatsby. The board also voted to remove the New York Times Learning Network as a teacher resource. The concern cited by the board members was sexual content that could cause controversy. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was also challenged for “anti-white messaging”; one board member claimed that it could generate an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit. The Office for Intellectual Freedom — joined by Alaska librarians, the Freedom to Read Foundation, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and the American Booksellers for Free Expression—sent a letter to the Mat-Su school board urging them to return the books to the curriculum. After the community protested the board’s vote, it rescinded its decision and the books remain available in the schools.


Challenged and under review in the sophomore-level Academic English II classes at Lemont (IL) High School District 210 because of objections from parents at a 21 November 2016 school board meeting.


Restricted to students with parental permission at the Ocean View School District middle school libraries in Huntington Beach (CA) because the “book’s contents were inappropriate for children.” Challenged in the Newman-Crows Landing (CA) School District on a required reading list presented by the Orestimba High English Department. A trustee questioned the qualifications of Orestimba staff to teach a novel depicting African American culture.


Challenged in the Manheim Township (PA) schools. The book was retained in the 9th grade English curriculum, but it will be taught later in the year after a public forum was held with parents to discuss the book and the entire literary canon of the English Department. Challenged in the Coeur d’Alene ID) School District. Some parents say the book, along with 5 others, should require parental permission for students to read them.


Retained in the Fond du Lac (WI) HS sophomore advanced English class. Parents had objected to teens reading Angelou’s account of being brutally raped by her mother’s boyfriend and an unwanted pregnancy later in life. Parents will receive notification and be allowed to decide whether or not they approve of its use by their children.


Removed as required reading from Annapolis (MD) freshman English curriculum because of rape scene and other mature content.


Challenged for racism, homosexuality, sexual content, offensive language and unsuited to age group.


Challenged as required reading in Hamilton (MT) freshman English class due to sexual exploration by teenagers, rape and homosexuality. Challenged in Fairfax (VA) school libraries by a group called Parents Against Bad Books in Schools for “profanity and descriptions of drug abuse, sexually explicit conduct and torture”.


Banned for language and being too explicit in the book’s portrayal of rape and other sexual abuse.


Challenged for being on the Poolesville (MD) high school reading list for sexual content and language

On These Pages

A Banned book has been removed from a library, classroom, etc.
A Challenged book has been requested to be removed from a library, classroom, etc.

For additional information contact

Ron Titus,

Last updated

September 8, 2021