All Articles » The Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2023

The Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2023

Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2023. American Library Association

The American Library Association (ALA) kicked off National Library Week, celebrated April 7-13, with the release of the annual State of America's Libraries report, which highlights the ways libraries and library workers have taken action to address community needs with innovative and critical services, as well as the challenges brought on by censorship attempts.

As with recent years, book censorship takes center state in the report. ALA reported in March that the number of unique titles targeted for censorship surged 65% in 2023 compared to 2022, reaching the highest levels ever documented by the Association. The report expands on and explains those numbers and also contains the highly anticipated list of the top 10 most challenged books of 2023, along with the reasons why the books were banned or challenged.

The most challenged books of 2023 are:

  1. Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe. Number of challenges: 106. Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, claimed to be sexually explicit.
  2. All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson. Number of challenges: 82. Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, claimed to be sexually explicit.
  3. This Book Is Gay by Juno Dawson. Number of challenges: 71. Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, sex education, claimed to be sexually explicit.
  4. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Number of challenges: 68. Reasons: Claimed to be sexually explicit, LGBTQIA+ content, rape, drugs, profanity.
  5. Flamer by Mike Curato. Number of challenges: 67. Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, claimed to be sexually explicit.
  6. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. Number of challenges: 62. Reasons: Rape, incest, claimed to be sexually explicit, EDI (equity, diversity, inclusion) content.
  7. (tie) Tricks by Ellen Hopkins. Number of challenges: 56. Reasons: Claimed to be sexually explicit, drugs, rape, LGBTQIA+ content.
  8. (tie) Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews. Number of challenges: 56. Reasons: Claimed to be sexually explicit, profanity.
  9. Let’s Talk About It by Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan. Number of challenges: 55. Reasons: Claimed to be sexually explicit, sex education, LGBTQIA+ content.
  10. Sold by Patricia McCormick. Reasons: 53. Claimed to be sexually explicit, rape.

“These are books that contain the ideas, the opinions, and the voices that censors want to silence—stories by and about LGBTQ+ persons and people of color,” ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom Director Deborah Caldwell-Stone said in a statement. “Each challenge, each demand to censor these books is an attack on our freedom to read, our right to live the life we choose, and an attack on libraries as community institutions that reflect the rich diversity of our nation. When we tolerate censorship, we risk losing all of this. During National Library Week, we should all take action to protect and preserve libraries and our rights.”

The top 10 most challenged books of 2023 are featured in Unite Against Book Bans’ Book Résumé resource. Launched in February, these résumés support librarians, educators, parents, students, and other community advocates when they defend books from censorship. Created in collaboration with the publishing industry and library workers, each book résumé summarizes the book’s significance and educational value, including a synopsis, reviews from professional journals, awards, accolades and more. Where possible, the book résumés also include information about how a title has been successfully retained in school districts and libraries after a demand to censor the book.

Today is also the second anniversary of Right to Read Day, a day of action launched by Unite Against Book Bans that takes place the Monday of National Library Week. This year’s theme is “Don’t Let Censorship Eclipse Your Freedom to Read,” and anyone who supports the right to read is encouraged to take action today by contacting Congress.

Take action

Alarmed by the escalating attempts to censor books? Here are five steps you can take now to protect the freedom to read.

  1. Follow news and social media in your community and state to keep apprised of organizations working to censor library or school materials.
  2. Show up for library workers at school or library board meetings and speak as a library advocate and community stakeholder who supports a parent’s right to restrict reading materials for their own child but not for all
  3. Help provide a safety net for library professionals as they defend intellectual freedom in their communities by giving to the LeRoy C. Merritt Humanitarian Fund.
  4. Educate friends, neighbors, and family members about censorship and how it harms communities. Share information from Banned Books Week.
  5. Join the Unite Against Book Bans movement and visit our Fight Censorship page to learn what you can do to defend the freedom to read in your community.

Subscribe to the I Love Libraries newsletter! You'll get monthly updates on library news, advocacy updates, book interviews, book info, and more!

Scroll to Top