A Brief History of Stupid Book Bans, from Twelfth Night to Where’s Waldo?

As Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man gets banned in one school district, it's important to reflect on what other great books have been banned and why

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Ralph Ellison

Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man has just been banned in school libraries in one North Carolina county. The 1952 novel about a man who seems to have fallen into a racial oblivion in America has remained firmly on countless school reading lists and many lists of best books, including TIME’s own Top 100. So it may seem surprising that the book was banned, and not for inappropriate content — as books often are — but rather for lack of literary merit, according to one Randolph County school board member.

This book wasn’t simply removed from reading lists, either. It was explicitly banned by a 5-2 vote, which took place after a 12-page complaint was placed by a parent who thought the story was inappropriate for her 11th grade child.

Here’s a look at other notable books that have been banned In the last two decades.

The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank. In 2010, a Virginia School District decided to use a censored version of Anne Frank’s Diary because one parent felt it was sexual, and even homosexual. You know who also didn’t like homosexuals? The Nazis.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle. Strangely enough, this adorable book about a bear was banned only briefly in 2010 because a school board, clearly incapable of using the internet, thought that the author, Bill Martin, was the same Martin who wrote a book called Ethical Marxism.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary. A few years ago, schools in California banned this book because it defined oral sex. Apparently it’s better to be illiterate than to know what oral sex is.

500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures, Elizabeth Martinez. Banned recently in Tucson, Arizona’s school district, where, according to Marshall University, at least 60% of students are from Mexican-American families. The whole Mexican studies program was nixed. The real question isn’t so much why, but rather, how was this decision attributed to anything other than racism?

Where’s Waldo, Martin Handford.  Apparently if you look closely enough, there’s a breast in one of the images. Some school districts didn’t like that, so in the early 1990s they made sure Waldo Would never be found again, not realizing that it would be nearly impossible to find the culprit.

Scary Stories, Alvin Schwartz. Anyone who had read these books will confirm that they are as terrifying as the drawings are haunting. That’s no reason to ban them, as some school districts decided to do in the last three years—there are only so many ways to teach your children not to hide in small small spaces.

Twelfth Night, William Shakespeare.  In 1996 schools in a  New Hampshire town thought that the alternative lifestyle promoted by this story, wasn’t good for their kids to learn about.

MORE: The Hunger Games Reaches Another Milestone: Top 10 Censored Books