Detroit Public Library Once Banned the Wizard of Oz for 15 Years
Unfortunately, the practice of book banning has been around for a long time. In fact, it's said that the first book ban dates back to 1637 when a man named Thomas Morton wrote a piece that was considered critical of Puritan customs and was, therefore, banned.
While it's not too surprising that a book/article that criticized the religious power in place at the time was banned, I was surprised to learn that, at one point, The Wizard of Oz was also a part of the banned book list.
Recently, a man named Steve G. posted a link in the Facebook group, Michigan History, that included an old newspaper.
The newspaper, the Toledo Blade, was originally published on April 5th, 1957. The paper covers a variety of topics from new parking spaces in downtown Toledo to advertisements for new cars to a list of legislative activities. Right in the middle of the page, you'll find a little blurb that reads,
Wizard of Oz Banned From Detroit Libraries. The director of the Detroit Public Library says "The Wizard of Oz" fairy tales are banned from city libraries because they give the wrong approach to life.
The blurb goes on to say that there's nothing uplifting about the series and that the books drag the mind to a cowardly level. It also said that, despite protests, they "stick to their guns."
And, stick to their guns they did. According to openculture.com, the ban on The Wizard of Oz books in Detroit public libraries stayed in place for the next 15 years until 1972.
It wasn't just Detroit that was against the "negative" books. Libraries in Florida, Chicago, and Tennesee either proposed or enacted bans on the children's books citing witchcraft and the general "unwholesomeness" of the story as their just cause.
You know...the book that eventually led to a film about a poor, displaced girl in a magical world with a talking tin man, lion, and scarecrow:
Like I said at the beginning of this article, banning books is nothing new. And, it doesn't seem like it's going to stop anytime soon. That's why there's now an entire Banned Books Week for the reading community that brings librarians, teachers, journalists, and the like together to celebrate the freedom to read...whatever you want. Learn more here.
Whether you're looking to buy a banned book or otherwise, make sure you support your locally-owned bookshop: