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Banned Books Week Library Guide

September 22 - September 28, 2019

Top Challenged Books

Top 11 Challenged Books of 2018

The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 347 challenges to library, school and university materials and services in 2018. Of the 483 books challenged or banned in 2018, the Top 11 Most Challenged Books were:

  1. George by Alex Gino

    Reasons: banned, challenged, and relocated because it was believed to encourage children to clear browser history and change their bodies using hormones, and for mentioning “dirty magazines,” describing male anatomy, “creating confusion,” and including a transgender character.

  2. A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG Keller

    Reasons: banned and challenged for including LGBTQIA+ content, and for political and religious viewpoints.

  3. Captain Underpants series written and illustrated by Dav Pilkey

    Reasons: series was challenged because it was perceived as encouraging disruptive behavior, while Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-A-Lot was challenged for including a same-sex couple.

  4. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

    Reasons: banned and challenged because it was deemed “anti-cop,” and for profanity, drug use, and sexual references.

  5. Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier

    Reasons: banned and challenged for including LGBTQIA+ characters and themes.

  6. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

    Reasons: banned, challenged, and restricted for addressing teen suicide.

  7. This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki

    Reasons: banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references, and certain illustrations.

  8. Skippyjon Jones series written and illustrated by Judy Schachner

    Reason: challenged for depicting stereotypes of Mexican culture.

  9. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

    Reasons: banned and challenged for sexual references, profanity, violence, gambling, and underage drinking, and for its religious viewpoint.

  10. This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman, illustrated by Kristyna Litten

    Reason: challenged and burned for including LGBTQIA+ content.

  11. Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

    Reason: challenged and burned for including LGBTQIA+ content.

Top 10 Challenged Books of 2017

Of the 416 books challenged or banned in 2017, the Top 10 Most Challenged Books were:

  1. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

    Originally published in 2007, this New York Times bestseller has resurfaced as a controversial book after Netflix aired a TV series by the same name. This YA novel was challenged and banned in multiple school districts because it discusses suicide.

  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian written by Sherman Alexie

    Consistently challenged since its publication in 2007 for acknowledging issues such as poverty, alcoholism, and sexuality, this National Book Award winner was challenged in school curriculums because of profanity and situations that were deemed sexually explicit.

  3. Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier

    This Stonewall Honor Award-winning 2012 graphic novel from an acclaimed cartoonist was challenged and banned in school libraries because it includes LGBT characters and was considered "confusing."

  4. The Kite Runner written by Khaled Hosseini

    This critically acclaimed, multigenerational novel was challenged and banned because it includes sexual violence and was thought to "lead to terrorism" and "promote Islam."

  5. George written by Alex Gino

    Written for elementary-age children, this Lambda Literary Award winner was challenged and banned because it includes a transgender child.

  6. Sex is a Funny Word written by Cory Silverberg and illustrated by Fiona Smyth

    This 2015 informational children's book, written by a certified sex educator, was challenged because it addresses sex education and is believed to lead children to "want to have sex or ask questions about sex."

  7. To Kill a Mockingbird written by Harper Lee

    This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, considered an American classic, was challenged and banned because of violence and its use of the N-word.

  8. The Hate U Give written by Angie Thomas

    Despite winning multiple awards and being the most searched-for book on Goodreads during its debut year, this YA novel was challenged and banned in school libraries and curriculums because it was considered "pervasively vulgar" and because of drug use, profanity, and offensive language.

  9. And Tango Makes Three written by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson and illustrated by Henry Cole

    Returning after a brief hiatus from the Top Ten Most Challenged list, this ALA Notable Children's Book, published in 2005, was challenged and labeled because it features a same-sex relationship.

  10. I Am Jazz written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas

    This autobiographical picture book, co-written by the 13-year-old protagonist, was challenged because it addresses gender identity.

Top 10 Challenged Books of 2016

Out of 323 challenges reported to the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, the Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2016 were:

  1. This One Summer written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki

    This young adult graphic novel, winner of both a Printz and a Caldecott Honor Award, was restricted, relocated, and banned because it includes LGBT characters, drug use, and profanity, and it was considered sexually explicit with mature themes.

  2. Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier

    Parents, librarians, and administrators banned this Stonewall Honor Award-winning graphic novel for young adults because it includes LGBT characters, was deemed sexually explicit, and was considered to have an offensive political viewpoint.

  3. George written by Alex Gino

    Despite winning a Stonewall Award and a Lambda Literary Award, administrators removed this children’s novel because it includes a transgender child, and the “sexuality was not appropriate at elementary levels.”

  4. I Am Jazz written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas

    This children’s picture book memoir was challenged and removed because it portrays a transgender child and because of language, sex education, and offensive viewpoints.

  5. Two Boys Kissing written by David Levithan

    Included on the National Book Award longlist and designated a Stonewall Honor Book, this young adult novel was challenged because its cover has an image of two boys kissing, and it was considered to include sexually explicit LGBT content.

  6. Looking for Alaska written by John Green

    This 2006 Printz Award winner is a young adult novel that was challenged and restricted for a sexually explicit scene that may lead a student to “sexual experimentation.”

  7. Big Hard Sex Criminals written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by Chip Zdarsky

    Considered to be sexually explicit by library staff and administrators, this compilation of adult comic books by two prolific award-winning artists was banned and challenged.

  8. Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread written by Chuck Palahniuk

    This collection of adult short stories, which received positive reviews from Newsweek and the New York Times, was challenged for profanity, sexual explicitness, and being “disgusting and all around offensive.”

  9. Little Bill (series) written by Bill Cosby and illustrated by Varnette P. Honeywood

    This children’s book series was challenged because of criminal sexual allegations against the author.

  10. Eleanor & Park written by Rainbow Rowell

    One of seven New York Times Notable Children’s Books and a Printz Honor recipient, this young adult novel was challenged for offensive language.

Top 10 Challenged Books of 2015

Out of 311 challenges reported to the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, the Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2015 were:

  1. Looking for Alaska, by John Green

    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group

  2. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James

    Reasons: sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and other (“poorly written,” “concerns that a group of teenagers will want to try it”)

  3. I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings

    Reasons: inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint, and unsuited for age group

  4. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Mark Haddon

    Reasons: anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“wants to remove from collection to ward off complaints”)

  5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time written by David Levithan

    Reasons: offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“profanity and atheism”)

  6. The Holy Bible

    Reasons: religious viewpoint

  7. Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel

    Reasons: violence and other (“graphic images”)

  8. Habibi, by Craig Thompson

    Reasons: nudity, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group

  9. Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, by Jeanette Winter

    Reasons: religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, and violence

  10. Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan

    Reasons: homosexuality and other (“condones public displays of affection”)