Banned and Challenged Books

Every year, the Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) compiles a list of the Top Ten Most Challenged Books in order to inform the public about censorship in libraries and schools. The lists are based on information from media stories and voluntary challenge reports sent to OIF from communities across the United States.

The Top Ten lists are only a snapshot of book challenges. Surveys indicate that 82-97% of book challenges – documented requests to remove materials from schools or libraries – remain unreported and receive no media.

For more information, visit ALA’s official Banned and Challenged Books site.

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 are:

  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

Eleven books were chosen for OIF's Most-Challenged Books list in 2018 instead of the usual 10, because numbers 10 and 11 in the list were tied for the final position. Both books were burned by a religious activist in Orange City, Iowa, in October to protest the city’s OC Pride event. OIF expanded the list to include both, in order to spotlight the repressive intolerance exemplified by the act of book burning and to remember that “he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself” (John Milton, Areopagitica). 

September 22-28 is Banned Books Week, the annual awareness campaign that celebrates the freedom to read. The event brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular. This year’s theme is “Censorship Leaves Us in the Dark: Keep the Light On.” And with challenges on the rise, it's more important than ever to draw attention to censorship in order to keep the light of learning alive. Visit ALA's Banned Books Week website to learn how to participate.

Censorship leaves us in the dark. Keep the light on. Celebrate Banned Books Week
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