Some Arizona parents had a problem.

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

They didn’t want their kids reading a cartoon book about a sperm named Willy.

These parents, in Chandler, asked that Nicholas Allan’s book “Where Willy Went” be moved to a restricted area of the library because the book is all about sex, according to the Banned Book Map.

Never mind that Willy is drawn like a little smiley tadpole or that sex is something kids will learn about – either from Willy or on the playground where their friends will probably give them all kinds of weird misinformation.

Yes, banning books and other materials is still alive and well in America – something we should note as we are the midst of The American Libraries Association Banned Books Week, which runs through Oct. 3.

In addition to the illustrated Willy book, Chandler parents challenged an audiotape of George Carlin’s “When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?” and a CD of Robin Williams narrating a fairy tale.

No explanation was given about the reasons behind challenging the recordings, but perhaps Robin Williams starts off the CD with his annoying “Good Morning, Vietnam” or something.

Banning a book or any other material just adds to its allure – the same way an artist’s work skyrockets in value after the artist drops dead.

Other books that have been banned throughout the years double as literary classics.

The Art Institute of Tucson Library’s Facebook page contains a list of books that have been banned or challenged for various reasons.

While Willy is not on the list, it does contain several others that many of us have probably been forced to read against our will – and ended up enjoying immensely.

Wish someone would have banned “Moby Dick” when it was on my college syllabus.

List of banned books, courtesy of The Art Institute of Tucson Library:

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Catcher in the Rye
Great Gatsby
Grapes of Wrath
To Kill a Mockingbird
The Color Purple
Lord of the Flies
Of Mice and Men
Catch 22
A Farewell to Arms
Invisible Man
Satanic Verses
Sons & Lovers
Tropic of Cancer
Harry Potter books
The Bastard of Istanbul
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Half of a Yellow Sun

I remember once trying to read “Tropic of Cancer,” just because there was so much hullabaloo about it. But I don’t remember being shocked or even enjoying it much.

Perhaps I should go read about Willy instead.


Have you read any of these banned books?

Are there books you won’t let your children read? Is it because of their age or because you don’t agree with the book’s content?

Do you agree with banning or restricting books for various reasons? What are those reasons?