The Chocolate War, first published by Robert Cormier in 1974, remains a perennial favorite of censors and book banners. The book tells the story of a secret society, the Vigils, whose members manipulate and intimidate most students into following the gang’s dictates. A student who tries to stand up to the gang finds that the struggle against conformity has unfortunate consequences. Recognition and awards for The Chocolate War include being named an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, a New York Times Outstanding Book for Young Adults, and a School Library Journal Best of the Best.

Censors have tried to remove The Chocolate War from libraries

Although masterfully structured and rich in theme, The Chocolate War was the most challenged book of fiction in 1998. Specific challenges were raised concerning sexual content, offensive language, and violence. Censors have repeatedly tried to remove The Chocolate War from library shelves and the curriculum, but have been stymied by First Amendment–based rights of intellectual freedom and the right to read.

This article was originally published in 2009. Sharon L. Morrison was the Library Director at Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

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