Banned Book Introduction and the Top 10 Most Challenged Books
Books unite us. Sharing stories important to us means sharing a part of ourselves. Books reach across boundaries and build connections between readers. Reading—especially books that extend beyond our own experiences—expands our worldview. Censorship, on the other hand, divides us and creates barriers.
Gear up for Banned Books Week (September 26 - October 2, 2021)
About Book Bans and Challenges
Books are still being banned and challenged today. A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials.
While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, the books have remained available. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.
Banned Books Week was launched in the 1980s, a time of increased challenges, organized protests, and the Island Trees School District v. Pico (1982) Supreme Court case, which ruled that school officials can’t ban books in libraries simply because of their content.
Banned books were showcased at the 1982 American Booksellers Association (ABA) BookExpo America trade show in Anaheim, California. At the entrance to the convention center towered large, padlocked metal cages, with some 500 challenged books stacked inside and a large overhead sign cautioning that some people considered these books dangerou
The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 156 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services in 2020. Of the 273 books that were targeted, here are the most challenged, along with the reasons cited for censoring the books:
1. Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe
Number of challenges: 151 ; Challenged for: LGBTQIA+ content, claimed to be sexually explicit
2. All Boys Aren't Blue by George M. Johnson
Number of challenges: 86 ; Challenged for: LGBTQIA+ content, claimed to be sexually explicit
3. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Number of challenges: 73 ; Challenged for: depiction of sexual abuse, EDI content, claimed to be sexually explicit
4. Flamer by Mike Curato
Number of challenges: 62 ; Challenged for: LGBTQIA+ content, claimed to be sexually explicit
5. (tie) Looking for Alaska by John Green
Number of challenges: 55 ; Challenged for: LGBTQIA+ content, claimed to be sexually explicit
5. (tie) The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Number of challenges: 55 ; Challenged for: depiction of sexual abuse, LGBTQIA+ content, drug use, profanity, claimed to be sexually explicit
7. Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison
Number of challenges: 54 ; Challenged for: LGBTQIA+ content, claimed to be sexually explicit
8. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Number of challenges: 52 ; Challenged for: profanity, claimed to be sexually explicit
9. Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez
Number of challenges: 50 ; Challenged for: depictions of abuse, claimed to be sexually explicit
10. (tie) A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Number of challenges: 48 ; Challenged for: claimed to be sexually explicit
10. (tie) Crank by Ellen Hopkins
Number of challenges: 48 ; Challenged for: drug use, claimed to be sexually explicit
10. (tie) Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
Number of challenges: 48 ; Challenged for: profanity, claimed to be sexually explicit
10. (tie) This Book Is Gay by Juno Dawson
Number of challenges: 48 ; Challenged for: LGBTQIA+ content, providing sexual education, claimed to be sexually explicit
Banned Book Week Themes
Each year there is an unique Banned Book Week theme:
2023: The theme for Banned Books Week 2023 is "Let Freedom Read." When we ban books, we're closing off readers to people, places, and perspectives.
“This is a dangerous time for readers and the public servants who provide access to reading materials. Readers, particularly students, are losing access to critical information, and librarians and teachers are under attack for doing their jobs.”
- Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom
2022: This year's Banned Books Week, the ALA's annual celebration of the freedom to read, is set to run from September 18-24 under the theme "Books Unite Us.Censorship Divides Us."
2021: "Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us."
2020: CENSORSHIP IS A DEAD END. FIND YOUR FREEDOM TO READ DURING BANNED BOOKS WEEK:
2019: Censorship Leaves us in the Dark. Keep the LIght On.
2018: Banning Books Silences Stories. Speak Out!
2017: Words Have Power. Read a Banned Book
Check out these Websites for More About Banned Books