Geeks logo

Five Banned Books That Were Made into Box Office Movies

by Sam H Arnold 2 months ago in literature
Report Story

Should we ban books?

Many books have been banned over the years. Banned books week looks at these books and allows us to question why.

Many are considered unsuitable for children, which is why many were banned. These are classics, though, that I believe all should have the opportunity to read.

You will notice from this list that all prove the point that there is no such thing as bad publicity, as all five had been both bestsellers and box office smashes. However, some may contain spoilers, so I urge caution if you have not read them.

Here are five books that make the banned books list, which have also been made into films. Although many of the films received nominations for awards, none of them is as good as sitting down with the original novel.

Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck

Of Mice and Men is a short novel written by John Steinbeck. Published in 1937, it tells the story of George Milton and Lennie Small. Along a similar theme to Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath, this novel tells the story of two displaced migrants making a living working as ranch hands. Set in the Great Depression, this follows these two men as they search for new job opportunities in California.

George is intelligent yet uneducated; Lennie is a large, strong man who is considered mentally disabled. Terms like this have made the book a favourite of the thought police. This book explores the lives of these men, their relationships, and the hardships of the time.

Both men have a dream of settling down on their land. Whilst working on one ranch, their history is hinted at and then revealed as an allegation of rape. Lennie enjoys physical work and also tends to pet rabbits. One time whilst touching them he accidentally kills one, not realising his true strength. The story follows the pair to its conclusion.

The book was turned into a very successful film in 1992. Gary Sinise who not only starred in the film but produced it played George Milton; John Malkovich played the role of Lennie. The film was nominated for the Palme d'Or award and received critical acclaim.

The book was banned by Henry Sisley High School in Montana in 1948 after they had received multiple complaints. Parents and staff had noted they had concerns about racist stereotypes and slurs.

As a result, the book is considered one of the most challenged books of the 21st century. It has been banned in many other countries but remains on the GCSE reading list in the United Kingdom.

Teaching it to my GCSE class has reignited my love of the book. I believe it has some important messages that would be lost if it was permanently banned.

Lord of the Flies

This book is set on an island where the boys have been stranded. The opening scene shows a young boy called Ralph walking with a larger boy. The boys have been evacuated from the war, surviving an enemy air attack and their plane crashing.

Unfortunately, no other adults are around, so the two boys decide to attract the other boys' attention by blowing through a conch shell. It is revealed then that the other boys call the larger boy piggy.

William Golding tells the story of how this group of boys started by establishing rules and a system of government. However, the group turns violent and brutal, killing one of its members without supervision. In the larger context, the book shows that human nature is fundamentally savage; we are left to consider if this would happen to humanity without rules.

The book has been the inspiration for three films the first in 1963, the second in 1990 and the last in 2002. Many consider the 1963 adaptation to be more faithful to the novel. Golding also supported this film.

The 1990 film, however, contained more notable stars such as Balthazar Getty, James Dale and Chris Furrh. As a result, the film was nominated for three awards, including the best ensemble of new talent.

The last version of the film received no such accolades and won the coveted rotten tomato.

The book has been banned from many schools and is in the top ten challenged books. Critics stated that the book's language and violence are unsuitable for children.

They state that the constant portrayal of bullying, one of the main plot lines, is also dangerous to children. In addition, some will say the book promotes pro-slavery, which is not a message children should read.

Although the book has some controversial aspects, it brings about some important messages about power and corruption. Maybe if more people read it, humanity would be in a better position.

The Color Purple

This newer book, written in 1982 by Alice Walker, tells the story of Celie, a poor young African-American teenager living in the US.

The story is harrowing as we read the letters she writes to God as her father is beating and raping her. Celie has two babies by her father, who are taken from her at birth.

Celie is then married to another man. Mister marries her as he has two children who need caring for. We then see Celie again being mistreated by not just Mister but his children.

The story continues into an epic tale, covering forty years, showing the abuse and bigotry she receives.

The film was directed by Steven Spielberg and starred Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover and Oprah Winfrey. It was a huge box office success, received critical acclaim, and was nominated for eleven academy awards.

Since being published, The Color Purple has been challenged many times and banned from school libraries across the US.

There have been various reasons the censors tried to ban it, including religious objections, homosexuality and violence. In 2017, it was successfully banned in all Texas State prisons for its explicit language and graphic depictions of violence.

The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner is a masterpiece by Khaled Hosseini. It was published in 2003 and tells the story of Amir, a young boy in Kabul.

The story is set during the events of the fall of the Afghanistan monarchy through the Soviet invasion. It also covers topics such as the mass exodus of refugees to Pakistan and the Taliban regime.

The book deals with themes of guilt and redemption and has a particularly harrowing scene of a sexual assault on one of Amir's friends.

This is one of the books that taught me so much about the world and made me appreciate the freedoms I take for granted.

The film was made in 2007. Although set in Afghanistan, the film was filmed in China, Afghanistan was considered too dangerous at the time.

This story was banned not only in book form but also in film. The film was banned from many cinemas and was not distributed in Afghanistan.

The film was a great success, received many positive reviews, and was nominated for a Golden Globe.

The book earns the award of being in the top ten books banned. The main concerns about the novel are its sexually explicit content, offensive language and general age inappropriateness.

Despite this, the book remains an essential piece of literature and one that has lived with me since I read it. Incidentally, it is not my favourite Hosseini book, that is saved for A Thousand Splendid Suns, another masterpiece.

To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

When I started this article, I was determined not to tell you my favourite. But, if you know that my firstborn was named Harper after my favourite book, I think it becomes pretty apparent. The book is set in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama. Again this is a story set in the Great Depression. The main character in the story is Jean Louise Finch, Scout to her friends.

Scout is a clever girl; this story covers three years of her life, from six to nine. It is a book about growing up and finally seeing the world for what it is. Scout and her brother Jem are raised by their widowed father, Atticus Finch. Atticus is a well-known and respected lawyer eager to teach his children lessons, such as empathy, through his actions.

When one of the town's Black residents is accused of raping a young white woman, Atticus agrees to defend him despite the threats from the community. However, despite Atticus putting up a good defence Tom Robinson is still convicted. Later in the book, he is killed trying to escape. During this time, the children become interested in Boo Radley, a hermit who lives in the town.

As the story progresses, we discover that the young woman has been killed by her father, Bob Ewell. When Ewell attacks the children, Radley intervenes and kills him. However, the town sheriff, reluctant to show a Black man was wrongly convicted, files the murder as an accident.

The film version received critical acclaim and was a huge box office success. It earned more than six times the cost of producing it and won three Oscars. One of those awards went to Gregory Peck, who played Atticus in the film. In 2003, the American Film Institute named Atticus Finch, the greatest movie hero of the 20th century.

The book was banned when parents complained about the racist epithets. The books were removed from the required classroom reading list. The teachers were told that they could use the text with small groups of students after they had received the required training on facilitating conversations that the book may bring about

Should books be banned?

The one thing that all these books have in common is they have all profoundly changed my life. Most of them would appear on my top ten reads list. They are important pieces of literature that extensively teach children and us.

I firmly believe that we are not giving our children enough credit by standing up as a parent and demanding books are banned. Having studied most of these books with my GCSE classes, I can tell you that they understand the themes.

They get that the world was very different when the books were published. They like discussing the themes and the way the world has changed. If we ban the books, we deny them the opportunity to have these discussions.

Yes, some of the terminologies might be outdated; the themes adult in essence, but the books were written at different times in our history. What is considered offensive now may not have been at the time of publication.

Is it not better that instead of banning these books, we examine our pasts? From this, we can learn and grow and ensure we do not repeat the same mistakes.

If you enjoyed this article, please subscribe to my writing, share it and give it a heart. As a writer tips and pledges mean a great deal to me, so a massive thank you if you send one.


About the author

Sam H Arnold

I know where the bodies are buried and I’m not afraid to tell you - author of True Crime, History and Fiction. Find me on Twitter [email protected]

Or find my crime magazine here -

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

Top insight

  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2022 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.