Kay: Celebrate Banned Books Week!

This word cloud shows the issues most usually targeted in the challenged books of 2021

Well, friends, here in the good ol’ USA it’s Banned Books Week this week! Here’s to…not reading something challenging!

Founded in 1982 by the American Library Association (ALA), the Banned Books project was started to raise awareness of attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. Events this year include a virtual Banned Books Trivia Night and Banned Books Virtual Quiz, as well as more serious lectures and panel discussions.

According to the ALA, the most common book challenges in the decade leading up to 2016 deemed texts to be “sexually explicit,” containing “offensive language,” or as being “unsuited for a certain age group.” Books today are increasingly challenged for allegedly promoting religious or political viewpoints, particularly in relation to racial inequity and injustice and LGBTQIA+ inclusivity. The graphic for this post shows the issues most commonly raised.

The ALA has listed the 10 most challenged books (of 273 total challenged books) targeted by parents, school board members, and community groups in the past year. Some of these books, honestly, have been around forever. You’d think people would move on and give other books a chance to be on the list.

  1. George by Alex Gino
    Challenged, banned, and restricted for featuring LGBTQIA+ content, conflicting with a religious viewpoint, and not reflecting “the values of our community”
  2. Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds
    Banned and challenged due to author’s public statements, as well as claims that the book contains “selective storytelling incidents” and does not encompass racism against all people
  3. All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
    Banned and challenged for profanity, drug use, alcoholism, the promotion of anti-police views, divisive topics, and being “too much of a sensitive matter right now”
  4. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
    Banned, challenged, and restricted because it was thought to contain a political viewpoint, bias against male students, rape, and profanity
  5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
    Banned and challenged for use of profanity, sexual references, and allegations of sexual misconduct by the author
  6. Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard, illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin
    Challenged for “divisive language” and thought to promote anti-police views
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    Banned and challenged for racial slurs and their negative effect on students, featuring a “white savior” character, and its misperception of the Black experience
  8. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
    Banned and challenged for racial slurs, racist stereotypes, and their negative effect on students
  9. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
    Banned and challenged for sexually explicit content and depictions of child sexual abuse
  10. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
    Challenged for profanity and promoting an anti-police message

Have any of these books—or others—been challenged in your community?

For more information, go to the Banned Books Week home page.

2 thoughts on “Kay: Celebrate Banned Books Week!

  1. Banning books has always seemed so crazy to me. Really, what better way to get people to want to rush out and buy/read a book than trying to ban it.

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