In 1993, the school districts in Fairbanks, Alaska, and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, came close to banning its students from reading the Bible, claiming that it contains "language and stories that are inappropriate for children of any age, including tales of incest and murder. There are more than three hundred examples of ‘obscenities’ in the book."

In 1986, Gastonia, North Carolina, burned The Living Bible, by William C. Bower, claiming it was "a perverted commentary on the King James Version."

Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird has been considered "dangerous" because of profanity. Parents throughout the years have claimed that the plot of a white lawyer defending a black man undermines race relations, at least according to school districts in Eden Valley, Minnesota, 1977; Warren, Indiana, 1981; Waukegan, Illinois, 1984; Kansas City, Missouri, 1985; and Park Hill, Missouri, 1985.

Despite persistent bans on classic literature and religious works, many parents, teachers, and government authorities still insist on the right to ban books that they consider harmful to someone else's intellectual, emotional, and spiritual development. To combat such governmental restrictions on books, Project Gutenberg offers famous works such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Dracula, and A Tale of Two Cities as plain ASCII text files that any computer can display and print. Their goal is to provide copies of famous and noteworthy works of literature so anyone can enjoy them for free.

To find banned books online, visit Banned Books Online (, MIT Press Bookstore (, The Online Books Page (, or Project Gutenberg (

Of course, you still need to access the Internet to download a free e-book. But once you've downloaded it, you can share it with others. By copying and sharing, you can preserve your right to read certain books that other people (your parents, boss, or government) don't want you to see.

Secretly reading a banned book in broad daylight

Most websites that offer banned books as ASCII text files assume you're going to read the book using your computer. Of course, you could still get in trouble if someone catches you reading a banned book on your computer screen.

To disguise what you're reading, use a reading program like AceReader (, which displays the entire text of an ASCII document across your screen in large letters, one word at a time, at speeds up to 1,000 words per minute, so that it's virtually impossible for anyone to see what you're reading at a glance. With this program, you can read the ASCII text of a book that your parents, school officials, or government authorities don't want you to read, right in front of their eyes without them ever knowing it.