Challenged and Banned: A Wrinkle in Time

Challenged/Banned Info:

  • Challenged at the Polk City, Fla. Elementary School under allegations that the story promotes witchcraft, crystal balls, and demons. (1985)
  • Challenged in the Anniston Ala. schools under objection to the book’s use of the name of Jesus Christ in relations to other artists, philosophers, scientists, and religious leaders (1990)
  • Frequently challenged for “undermining religious beliefs.”
  • Ranked no. 22 in the ALA’s 100 most banned books for 1990-2000.

A Wrinkle in Time is the first story of a series about the Murry and O’Keefe families. The book is actually what you might call Science Fantasy; it uses the idea of an additional dimension that acts to bend or fold time and space to allow for rapid travel, called tessering. In a nutshell, Meg Murry, the eldest Murry sibling who is pretty unhappy when the book opens, her youngest brother Charles, and one of Meg’s schoolmates, Calvin O’Keefe, are transported into space by disguised beings who are engaged in a war against a cloud that is the physical manifestation of evil. Of course, Meg, Charles, and Calvin are about to be drawn into the middle of things. Eventually, Meg will have to rescue her younger brother and her father, before everyone is returned home.

Looking at this book’s resume, it’d be hard to identify it as a banned or challenged book. A Wrinkle in Time has been awarded the Newbery Medal, Sequoyah Book Award, and Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, and was runner-up for the Hans Christian Andersen Award. Certainly something that decorated wouldn’t be challenged right? Well, no (obviously, or we wouldn’t be here).

A Wrinkle in Time has enough fantastic elements in it to make people nervous, add to that the inclusion of a religious figure (Jesus) in a story that involves elements not normally associated with said religious figure (time travel and alternate dimensions and such) and you’ve got a book that’s going to keep things interesting in many a PTA meeting. We can say this, because that is exactly what has consistently happened to this title. However, given the lessons that Meg learns at the end of the story, and the way in which she learns she can save her brother (it involves love – GASP!) as well as the context in which some other frequently challenged elements are employed, you have to wonder if the objectors have actually read the book at all.

Actually, it’s almost fitting, considering the title’s history. Madeleine L’Engle collected some 26 rejection letters before finally finding a publisher at a holiday tea party. And, as if that wasn’t enough, it opens with the cheesiest opening line ever committed to the page: “It was a dark and stormy night…” Ms. L’Engle had stated that she had trouble finding a publisher for a number of reason, including that the book seemed too difficult for children, but not challenging enough for adults, that her employment of a female protagonist might have been too advanced for most tastes at the time, and that it was difficult to pin down what type of book A Wrinkle in Time was supposed to be. And yet for all this, Wrinkle remains one of the more popular selections on school reading lists. And why not? The story is interesting, the characters are well-written and engaging, and the language it’s written in is still accessible to anyone trying to read it (unlike, say, Chaucer perhaps).

Award-winning and frequently challenged, A Wrinkle in Time has never been out of print since it’s first publication in 1962 (and that’s a feat in itself). Sometimes, you can’t keep a good book down. And thank goodness for that.

Are you an educator or planning to use this book as part of a course? Teachers@Random has a fantastic discussion & lesson guide to help you get started. View it here: Teachers@Random: A Wrinkle in Time.