Banned Books Week 2020, the annual celebration of the freedom to read, will be held September 27 - October 3. This year’s Banned Books Week theme is “Censorship is a Dead End. Find Your Freedom to Read.” Censorship limits exploration and creates barriers to access information.
Charles Brownstein, chair of the Banned Books Week Coalition (BBWC) committee, says, “Banned Books Week gives everyone a chance to celebrate their story. The courageous students, teachers, librarians, and authors who stand up for challenged ideas remind us that intellectual freedom is our birthright. By creating an event for your community, posting online about the freedom to read, or even just reading a banned book, each person has an opportunity to further that right.”
Explore the following pages for listings of banned/challenged books:
- 30 Years of Liberating Literature timeline
- Banned/Challenged Classics
- Top Ten Frequently Challenged Books lists
- 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books by Decade
- Most Frequently Challenged Authors of the 21st Century
The American Library Association condemns censorship and works to ensure free access to information. Every year, the Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) compiles a list of the Top 10 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 reports sent to OIF from communities across the U.S.
The Top 10 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.
The top ten most challenged books of 2019 include:
Reasons: Banned and forbidden from discussion for referring to magic and witchcraft, for containing actual curses and spells, and for characters that use “nefarious means” to attain goals
Reasons: challenged, banned, restricted, and hidden to avoid controversy; for LGBTQIA+ content and a transgender character; because schools and libraries should not “put books in a child’s hand that require discussion”; for sexual references; and for conflicting with a religious viewpoint and “traditional family structure”
Reasons: challenged for LGBTQIA+ content, for “its effect on any young people who would read it,” and for concerns that it was sexually explicit and biased
Reasons: Challenged and vandalized for LGBTQIA+ content and political viewpoints, for concerns that it is “designed to pollute the morals of its readers,” and for not including a content warning
Reasons: Challenged, banned, and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content; for discussing gender identity and sex education; and for concerns that the title and illustrations were “inappropriate”
Reasons: Challenged and restricted for featuring a gay marriage and LGBTQIA+ content; for being “a deliberate attempt to indoctrinate young children” with the potential to cause confusion, curiosity, and gender dysphoria; and for conflicting with a religious viewpoint
This autobiographical picture book co-written by the 13-year-old protagonist was challenged because it addresses gender identity.
Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity and for “vulgarity and sexual overtones”
Reasons: Challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and for concerns that it goes against “family values/morals”
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.