So You Want to Ban A Book: A Mad Libs Petition

Michelle Anne Schingler, a former librarian and Hebrew school teacher, is the managing editor at Foreword Reviews. Her days are books, books, books; she knows how lucky that makes her.  Twitter: @mschingler

It happens to the best of us: we need to alert authorities to the presence of a dangerous book among us, post haste!, but find ourselves afflicted with writer’s block at this, the worst of all possible times. Never fear! The good people of Book Riot are here to provide you with a fail-proof form for getting your concerns out there quickly and persuasively. Bonus!: you don’t even have to know much about your offending title, or its plot, to flesh this letter out. Just fill in the fields below, send your letter in, and await deliverance from the dangerous ideas that trouble you.

(Courtesy of Fast Company)


Dear (proper noun/name of petitioned body–e.g., school board president, senator, President of the United States, head of the U.N., galactic overlord),

I write to you as a concerned citizen of (proper noun/jurisdiction under threat–e.g., city, state, country, planet, planetary system), where we currently find our communal harmony threatened by the presence of (book title) in our (purveyor responsible–e.g., school libraries, public libraries, bookstores, loan-happy citizens’ homes, or all of the above).

If you are not familiar with (repeat book title), here’s what you need to know: it is the (negative adjective–see appendix, list 1 for help) tale of a (flat gendered noun that corresponds to the main character) whose exploits, truth be told, seem to exist solely to promote themes of (ideology deemed dangerous–see appendix, list 2 for help). It is clear to me, as a longtime member of (name of an organization with perceived moral authority–e.g., body of worship, Daughters of the American Revolution, Boy Scouts of America, the ACLU), that (repeat book title) is a dangerous work of propaganda from (political or social group)ians, the threat of which equals (title of a contested work–see appendix) in its insidiousness.

Our children and (vulnerable group or entity–e.g., elderly, puppies, etc.) are at risk as long as this book remains on our shelves. I implore you: do what you can to remove this (negative adjective–see appendix, list 3 for help) from our presence as quickly as possible, while there is still time.

With gratitude,

Concerned Citizen



List 1–synonyms for “vile”: putrid, repugnant, immoral, disgraceful, offensive, heinous, evil, degenerate, nefarious, revolting, etc.

List 2–polarizing ideologies: socialism, utilitarianism, communism, pluralism, fascism, conservativism, liberalism, atheism, Marxism, any theism, vegetarianism, capitalism, feminism, sex-postivism, etc.

Contested Works for Comparison:  You can use any title from the contested books list, but, you know what? For maximum oomph, probably just go with Mein Kampf. Neatly offends everyone.

List 3–synonyms for “filth”: tripe, trash, scat, dung, grime, slime, smut. Scatological terms work best.


There! You’re now armed with a solid template for beginning your fight against ideas not your own. It’s always an uphill battle–the world is full of pesky people who think that others ought to be able to read whatever they wish to read, despite our opinions–but now, at least, you’ll have some energy freed up. Happy crusading, friends!