It’s that magical time of year again, when all of us book nerds join together to celebrate Banned Books Week, an annual event to draw attention to the constant threat of censorship that schools, libraries, universities, comics publishers, and more face. It’s a large coalition, featuring the efforts of American Booksellers for Free Expression, American Library Association, Amnesty International, Association of University Presses, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, National Book Foundation, National Council of Teachers of English, and more that help put together the event.
The American Library Association works to ensure free access to information. To that end, every year their Office of Intellectual Freedom compiles a list of the top ten most challenged books to inform the public about censorship in libraries and schools. The lists are based on information from media stories and voluntary reports sent to the Office from around the United States. In 2021 the Office tracked 729 challenges to library, school, and university materials. Of the 1,597 books that were targeted, here are the most challenged books, along with the reasons cited for censoring the books.
Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
Reasons: Banned, challenged, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, and because it was considered to have sexually explicit images
Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison
Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to be sexually explicit
All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content, profanity, and because it was considered to be sexually explicit
Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez
Reasons: Banned, challenged, and restricted for depictions of abuse and because it was considered to be sexually explicit
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, violence, and because it was thought to promote an anti-police message and indoctrination of a social agenda
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references and use of a derogatory term
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
Reasons: Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and degrading to women
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Banned and challenged because it depicts child sexual abuse and was considered sexually explicit
This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson
Reasons: Banned, challenged, relocated, and restricted for providing sexual education and LGBTQIA+ content.
Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin
Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to be sexually explicit.
What now? Well, for starters, you might want to read one, or all, of this year’s most challenged books. I maintain a list in my Bookshop that contains the most recent top ten most challenged books for your convenience. The American Library Association has a great list of other ideas that I encourage you to check out! There are even more ideas at the Banned Books Week website!
You can find the top ten most challenged books of 2021 here. (This is an affiliate link to my Bookshop, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use this link to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.)
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