The Little Red Schoolbook

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The Little Red Schoolbook
The little red schoolbook (cover).jpg
Cover of the first edition
AuthorSøren Hansen, Jesper Jensen
Publication date

The Little Red Schoolbook (Danish: Den Lille Røde Bog For Skoleelever; English: The Little Red Book For School Pupils) is a book written by two Danish schoolteachers, Søren Hansen and Jesper Jensen, published in 1969, that was subject to much controversy upon its publication. The book was translated into many languages in the early 1970s. Beatrice Faust contributed to the Australian edition of The Little Red Schoolbook.[1]


The book encourages young people to question societal norms and instructs them on how to do this. Out of 200 pages, it includes 20 pages on sex and 30 on drugs, including alcohol and tobacco. Other topics included adults as "paper tigers", the duties of teachers, discipline, examinations, intelligence, and different schools.[2]


As a result of its subject matter and its targeted audience of schoolchildren, a number of politicians in many countries criticised the book, fearing that the book would erode the moral fabric of society and be an invitation for anarchy in schools.[3] The LRSB was banned in France and Italy.

In Switzerland, the Bernese cantonal politician Hans Martin Sutermeister led a campaign against the book. He was successful in temporarily blocking the introduction of the book into the country. The subsequent controversy, however, ended his political career, costing him his job as director of the schools of the Swiss capital and contributed to a split in his party, the Ring of Independents, which led to its mid-term decline.[4][5]

In the UK, the book was the subject of a successful prosecution under the Obscene Publications Act, a decision that was upheld by the Appeal Court and subsequently by the European Court of Human Rights in the case known as Handyside v United Kingdom. The government however allowed a second, censored edition to be published, in which some of the passages criticised in court were amended or cut.[2]

The book was banned in the Australian state of Queensland by the Queensland Literature Board of Review in 1972.[6]

It was not banned in New Zealand despite some "moral outrage"[7].

It is referenced in the title of the 1998 Momus album, The Little Red Songbook.[8]

It was discussed critically by Peter Hitchens in his book The Broken Compass: How British Politics Lost its Way (2009). It was the subject of a BBC Radio 4 documentary in 2008 presented and produced by Jolyon Jenkins.[2]

An unexpurgated edition of the book, bar one minor cut, was published in the UK in July 2014.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Book that Shook the World", Film Australia, 3 November 2007, SBS Television
  2. ^ a b c BBC Radio 4 - In Living Memory - The Little Red Schoolbook 18 June 2008
  3. ^ 2005/214/1 Book, Australian Edition 'The little red schoolbook', Powerhouse Museum, Ultimo, New South Wales, Australia
  4. ^ Klaus H. Thiele-Dohrmann, “Ruhestörung in Bern.”[permanent dead link] Die Zeit July 24, 1970 (in German)
  5. ^ “Der SPIEGEL berichtete: Schüler-Lehrerbeziehung.” Der Spiegel 28/1970, July 6, 1970 (in German)
  6. ^ Bruce, Joan (4 May 2017). "Little Red School Book". John Oxley Library blog, State Library of Queensland. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  7. ^ Office of Film and Literature Classification
  8. ^ Reviews: Alternative Press - December, 1998
  9. ^ Joanna Moorhead "The Little Red Schoolbook - honest about sex and the need to challenge authority", The Guardian, 8 July 2014

External links[edit]