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Reading Central : Banned Books and Censorship

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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.

  • Raise awareness of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2020 this National Library Week (April 4-10, 2021) with the below graphics and activities.
  • 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.

Challenge Yourself

How well do you know your banned books?  In honor of Banned Book Week 2019 New York Public Library presented this Banned Book Quiz.

Home - New York Public Library - LibGuides at New York Institute of  Technology


Banned Books Week 2020 Trivia - FIRE › special-collections › banned-b...


Test your knowledge of banned and challenged books! Every book mentioned in this quiz has at some point made the American Library Association's yearly list .

15 trivia questions for Banned Books Week

by Abra Cole of the Spokane Valley Library



Banned Book Breakout 


Try out this Digital Banned Book Breakout from Chapin Library

Celebrate Banned Book Week - Stanislaus Library

Digital Escapes from Stanislaus Library

Banned Book Week

Hand holding a megaphone

Find out more about the history of banned books, current events, and how you can fight against censorship at ALA's Banned Book Week page.


The following is from the American Libraries Magazine article 50 Years of Intellectual Freedom, written by OIF staff celebrating the office’s anniversary.

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

Top 13 Most Challenged Books of 2022

Find more shareable statistics on the Free Downloads webpage.

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:

Censorship by the Numbers infographic depicting who initiates challenges, where challenges take place, what types of materials or services are challenged, and the spike in the number of challenges taking place.

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."

On Eve of Banned Books Week 2022, ALA Says Challenges Are Rising

2021: "Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us."

Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us 2021 ALA Logo


censorship is a dead end. find your freedom to read during banned books week logo

2019: Censorship Leaves us in the Dark. Keep the LIght On.

censorship leaves us in the dark. keep the light on logo

2018: Banning Books Silences Stories. Speak Out!

banning books silences stories. speak out logo

2017: Words Have Power. Read a Banned Book

words have power read a banned book logo

Check out these Websites for More About Banned Books


Banned Books Week

This site offers resources for celebrating Banned Books Week. Included are Banned Books Week news, events and materials.

Banned Books Online

The Online Books Page presents a brief look at book banning with links to online texts of books banned by legal authorities and schools.

National Coalition Against Censorship

The National Coalition Against Censorship, an alliance of fifty-two participating organizations, is dedicated to protecting free expression and access to information.

NCTE Intellectual Freedom Center

NCTE offers advice, helpful documents, and other support at no cost to teachers faced with challenges to literary works, films and videos, drama productions, or teaching methods.