Idaho’s Banned Books

There are several problems with banned books lists, the first of which is that they keep getting longer. The American Library Association (ALA) reported a record number of book bans in 2022. Last year there were 1,269 attempts to ban books, up from 729 in 2021 and 156 in 2020. And they just keep coming.

The other problem is deciding which list to check. Do you want children’s books, novels, classic literature, or nonfiction? Do you want books banned anywhere in the United States or only those banned in your state? Do you want a list of the most banned books of all time or just those that were banned last year? How about a list of banned books that are over 100 years old? Or better, how about a list of 100-year-old books that were banned last year? 

After a lot searching, I’ve created a list of 83 books recently banned in the State of Idaho.

Why? Well, every day my news feed is filled with articles like:

The reason most Republicans cite for banning books is protecting children from pornography and other ‘harmful’ material. According to Rep. Jaron Crane (R-Nampa) and cosponsor Sen. Cindy Carlson (R-Riggins), Idaho House Bill 314 seeks to prevent minors from accessing pornographic content. Rep. Mike Kingsley (R-Lewiston) even went so far as to claim librarians were sexually grooming minors.

For reference, HB 314 defines pornography as any image depicting nudity. That includes art books showing Michelangelo’s Statue of David–it’s irrelevant that such artwork has religious and historic significance as the depiction of a biblical scene. The ban also covers scientific books on anatomy, physiology, and human development because a sketch of a naked baby in utero is equally obscene. The bill even allows aggrieved parents to sue schools and libraries for $2,500 for each violation.

It is highly ironic then, that our elected representatives desire to protect children does not extend to their cellphones. The same week that HB 314 passed, Senate Bill 1163 failed. Senate Bill 1163 would have required cellphone companies to automatically activate porn filters on the phones of minors and failure to do so would result in a $1,000 fine. The Senators who voted against the bill said it constituted government overreach and interfered with parent’s rights.

So, in Idaho it’s perfectly OK for a 13-year-old to watch porn, live and in color, on their phone but reading Harry Potter crosses the line. Yes, you read right . . . the Harry Potter series is banned in Idaho. But only the books. The movies are still acceptable to watch. Which begs the question, “If the movies are acceptable, exactly why are the books banned?”

Another interesting thing about the current book banning climate is that some of the books gaining nationwide attention are over 100 years old. That’s nearly the case with Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World which was published 91 years ago—in 1932.

Huxley’s dystopian novel is set in a futuristic world where citizens of the state are subjected to social hierarchy and psychological manipulation. The novel has been compared to George Orwell’s “1984,” where a totalitarian government based loosely on Nazi Germany bans books through the Ministry of Truth and government floods it’s citizens with constant propaganda. In 1999, A Brave New World ranked 5th on the Modern Library’s list of the 100 Best English Language Novels of the 20th Century. Now, it’s banned.

The words and story contained in Huxley’s novel has remained exactly the same since publication. It hasn’t changed. It’s no more risqué now than it was 90 years ago. What has changed is the Republican party. If the Republican’s true goal was protecting children from pornography, the bill requiring porn filters on cellphones would have passed and books would go unbanned.

If you, like me, enjoy reading banned books, here’s a list of 83 books that have been banned or challenged in Idaho since 2018:

Book Year Published Author
33 Snowfish 2003 Adam Rapp
A Brave New World 1932 Aldous Huxley
A Court of Mist and Fury 2016 Sarah J. Maas
A Thousand Acres 1991 Jane Smiley
After a Time 2016 Laurie Salzler
All Boys Aren’t Blue 2020 George M. Johnson
An ABC of Equality 2019 Chana Ginelle Ewing
And Tango Makes Three 2005 Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell
Asking for It 2015 Louise O’Neill
Auntie Uncle: Drag Queen Hero 2020 Ellie Royce
Beloved 1987 Toni Morrison
Beyond Magenta 2014 Susan Kuklin
Bless Me, Ultima 1972 Rudolfo Anaya
Boyfriends With Girlfriends 2011 Alex Sanchez
Call Us What We Carry: From the Presidential Inaugural Poet 2021 Amanda Gorman
City of Heavenly Fire 2014 Cassandra Clare
Clockwork Princess 2013 Cassandra Clare
Crank 2004 Ellen Hopkins
Daddy’s Roommate 1990 Michael Willhoite
Dear Martin 2017 Nic Stone
Diary of a Drag Queen 2019 Crystal Rasmussen
Drag Teen 2016 Jeffery Self
Drama 2012 Raina Telgemeier
Dreaming in Cuban 1992 Cristina Garcia
Easy 2012 Tammara Webber
Eleanor & Park 2012 Rainbow Rowell
Exit Here 2007 Jason Myers
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close 2005 Jonathan Safran Foer
Fairy Tale 45 2014 Hiro Mashima
Fallen Angels 1988 Walter Dean Myers
Forever 1975 Judy Blume
From Archie to Zack 2020 Vincent X Kirsch
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic 2006 Alison Bechdel
Gender Queer: A Memoir 2019 Maia Kobabe
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women 2016 Elena Favilli, Francesca Cavallo
Harry Potter (series) 1998 J.K. Rowling
Heather Has Two Mommies 1989 Leslea Newman
Hey Kiddo: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt with Family Addiction 2018 Jarrett Krosoczka
I Am Jazz 2014 Jessica Herthel, Jazz Jennings
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings 1969 Maya Angelou
Identical 2008 Ellen Hopkins
It’s Perfectly Normal 1994 Robie H. Harris
Jack (Not Jackie) 2018 Erica Silverman
Twelve 2007 Lauren Myracle
Lawn Boy 2018 Jonathan Evison
Leah On the Offbeat 2018 Becky Albertalli
Long Way Down 2017 Jason Reynolds
Looking for Alaska 2005 John Green
Melissa 2015 Alex Gino
My Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen 2017 David Clawson
Obsidian (series) 2011 Jennifer L. Armentrout
Out of Darkness 2015 Ashley Hope Perez
Prince and Knight 2018 Daniel Haack
Prince and the Dressmaker 2018 Jen Wang
Rainbow Boys 2001 Alex Sanchez
Sex is a Funny Word 2015 Cory Silverberg
Shout 2019 Laurie Halse Anderson
Sold 2006 Patricia McCormick
Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story 2018 Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, Ann Hazzard, Jennifer Zivion
Speak 1999 Laurie Halse Anderson
Sula 1973 Toni Morrison
The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers & the Crime that Changed Their Lives 2017 Dashka Slater
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian 2007 Sherman Alexie
The Bluest Eye 1970 Toni Morrison
The Chocolate War 1974 Robert Cormier
The Color Purple 1982 Alice Walker
The Giver 1993 Lois Lowry
The Handmaid’s Tale 1985 Margaret Atwood
The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish 2020 Lil Miss Hot Mess
The House of Impossible Beauties 2018 Joseph Cassara
The Kite Runner 2003 Khaled Hosseini
The Perks of Being a Wallflower 1999 Stephen Chbosky
The Round House 2012 Louise Erdrich
The Story of Harvey and the Rainbow Flag 2018 Rob Sanders
The Walking Dead (series) 2004 Robert Kirkman
Thirteen Reasons Why 2007 Jay Asher
This Book is Gay 2014 Juno Dawson
This One Summer 2014 Jillian Tamaki, Mariko Tamaki
Twisted 2007 Laurie Halse Anderson
Vast Fields of Ordinary 2009 Nick Burd
We Are Okay 2017 Nina LaCour
What Are Your Words?: A Book About Pronouns 2021 Katherine Locke
Who was Harriet Tubman 2002 Yona Zeldis McDonough


While most of the books being banned are novels filled with nothing but words, some are picture books designed for younger kids. Want to see inside those books? Below are some screen shots from Chana Ewing’s picture book, “An ABC of Equality.”

Further reading:


5 thoughts on “Idaho’s Banned Books

  1. Governor Brad Little vetoed HB 314 and the legislature was unable to override the veto, so the topic is dead at the state level–at least for now.

    Unfortunately, many local libraries and school districts around the state are still being targeted. In my town, the following books were recently pulled from the shelves at the Potlatch High School library:
    Beloved, 1987 (also a movie) — Read
    Crank, 2004 — Read
    Eleanor and Park, 2012 — Read
    Fade, 1988
    Fallout, 2010 — Read
    Glass, 2007 — Read
    Identical, 2008 — Read
    Impulse, 2007 — Read
    Looking for Alaska, 2005 (also a TV miniseries) — Read
    Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl, 2012 (also a movie) — Read
    One Hot Second, 2002
    Sold, 2006 — Read
    The Perks of being a Wallflower, 1999 (also a movie) — Read
    Tilt, 2012
    Traffick, 2015
    Tricks, 2009 — CURRENTLY READING
    TTYL, 2004

    • When the books were removed, was a procedure followed? Did you have a reconsideration of materials policy? I am so sorry to hear this!

      • Hi Ashley–
        There wasn’t a policy in place at the time. The board is in the process of crafting a policy now. They are looking to create a 7-member committee to read and review all the books.

        I have volunteered to be on that committee and suggested members be required to read a book a week, so someone can’t just drag their feet and never get around to reading them.

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