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Banned and Challenged Books: Top 10 for 2010 - 2021

“Reading is an exercise in empathy; an exercise in walking in someone else’s shoes for a while.” - Malorie Blackman

 

The following data has been pulled from the annual list of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books put out by the Office for Intellectual Freedom. It is also important to note that with anywhere from 82-97% of challenges going unreported each year, these lists are simply a very small "snapshot of book challenges" (ALA).

Most Challenged Book of Each Year

Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe

2021

Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe

Reasons: for LGBTQIA+ content, and because it was considered to have sexually explicit images

2020

Melissa by Alex Gino
(originally published as George)

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”

Melissa by Alex Gino (originally published as George)

2019

Melissa by Alex Gino
(originally published as George)

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”

Melissa by Alex Gino (originally published as George)

2018

Melissa by Alex Gino
(originally published as George)

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

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

2017

Thirteen Reasons Why written by Jay Asher

Originally published in 2007, this New York Times bestseller has resurfaced as a controversial book after Netflix aired a TV series by the same name. This YA novel was challenged and banned in multiple school districts because it discusses suicide.

This One Summer written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki

2016

This One Summer written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki

Reasons: challenged because it includes LGBT characters, drug use and profanity, and it was considered sexually explicit with mature themes

Looking for Alaska, by John Green

2015

Looking for Alaska, by John Green

Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

2014

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Reasons: anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying”

Captain Underpants (series) by Dav Pilkey

2013

Captain Underpants (series) by Dav Pilkey

Reasons: offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence

Captain Underpants (series) by Dav Pilkey

2012

Captain Underpants (series) by Dav Pilkey

Reasons: offensive language, unsuited for age group

ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series) by Lauren Myracle

2011

ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series) by Lauren Myracle 

Reasons: offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson illustrated by Henry Cole

2010

And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, illustrated by Henry Cole

Reasons: homosexuality, religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group

Top 10 Most Challenged Books 2010-2021

  1. Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
    Reasons: Banned, challenged, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, and because it was considered to have sexually explicit images
  2. Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to be sexually explicit
  3. All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content, profanity, and because it was considered to be sexually explicit
  4. Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez
    Reasons: Banned, challenged, and restricted for depictions of abuse and because it was considered to be sexually explicit
  5. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, violence, and because it was thought to promote an anti-police message and indoctrination of a social agenda
  6. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references and use of a derogatory term
  7. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
    Reasons: Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and degrading to women
  8. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: Banned and challenged because it depicts child sexual abuse and was considered sexually explicit
  9. This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson
    Reasons: Banned, challenged, relocated, and restricted for providing sexual education and LGBTQIA+ content.
  10. Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to be sexually explicit. 
  1. Melissa by Alex Gino
    (originally published as George)

    Reasons: Challenged, banned, and restricted for 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
    Reasons: Banned and challenged because of author’s public statements, and because of 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
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, drug use, and alcoholism, and because it was thought to promote anti-police views, contain divisive topics, and be “too much of a sensitive matter right now”
  4. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
    Reasons: Banned, challenged, and restricted because it was thought to contain a political viewpoint and it was claimed to be biased against male students, and for the novel’s inclusion of rape and profanity
  5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for 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
    Reasons: Challenged for “divisive language” and because it was thought to promote anti-police views
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for racial slurs and their negative effect on students, featuring a “white savior” character, and its perception of the Black experience
  8. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for racial slurs and racist stereotypes, and their negative effect on students
  9. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and depicts child sexual abuse
  10. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
    Reasons: Challenged for profanity, and it was thought to promote an anti-police message
  1. Melissa by Alex Gino
    (originally published as George)

    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”
  2. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin
    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
  3. A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG Keller
    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
  4. Sex is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smyth
    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” 
  5. Prince & Knight by Daniel Haack, illustrated by Stevie Lewis
    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
  6. I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
    Reasons: challenged and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content, for a transgender character, and for confronting a topic that is “sensitive, controversial, and politically charged”
  7. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
    Reasons: banned and challenged for profanity and for “vulgarity and sexual overtones”
  8. Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
    Reasons: challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and for concerns that it goes against “family values/morals”
  9. Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
    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
  10. And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, illustrated by Henry Cole
    Reason: challenged and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content
  1. Melissa by Alex Gino
    (originally published as George)

    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
  1. Thirteen Reasons Why written by Jay Asher
    Originally published in 2007, this New York Times bestseller has resurfaced as a controversial book after Netflix aired a TV series by the same name. This YA novel was challenged and banned in multiple school districts because it discusses suicide.
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian written by Sherman Alexie
    Consistently challenged since its publication in 2007 for acknowledging issues such as poverty, alcoholism, and sexuality, this National Book Award winner was challenged in school curriculums because of profanity and situations that were deemed sexually explicit.
  3. Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
    This Stonewall Honor Award-winning, 2012 graphic novel from an acclaimed cartoonist was challenged and banned in school libraries because it includes LGBT characters and was considered “confusing.”
  4. The Kite Runner written by Khaled Hosseini
    This critically acclaimed, multigenerational novel was challenged and banned because it includes sexual violence and was thought to “lead to terrorism” and “promote Islam.”
  5. George written by Alex Gino
    Written for elementary-age children, this Lambda Literary Award winner was challenged and banned because it includes a transgender child.
  6. Sex is a Funny Word written by Cory Silverberg and illustrated by Fiona Smyth
    This 2015 informational children’s book written by a certified sex educator was challenged because it addresses sex education and is believed to lead children to “want to have sex or ask questions about sex.”
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird written by Harper Lee
    This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, considered an American classic, was challenged and banned because of violence and its use of the N-word.
  8. The Hate U Give written by Angie Thomas
    Despite winning multiple awards and being the most searched-for book on Goodreads during its debut year, this YA novel was challenged and banned in school libraries and curriculums because it was considered “pervasively vulgar” and because of drug use, profanity, and offensive language.
  9. And Tango Makes Three written by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson and illustrated by Henry Cole
    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.
  10. I Am Jazz written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
    This autobiographical picture book co-written by the 13-year-old protagonist was challenged because it addresses gender identity.
  1. This One Summer written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
    Reasons: challenged because it includes LGBT characters, drug use and profanity, and it was considered sexually explicit with mature themes
  2. Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
    Reasons: challenged because it includes LGBT characters, was deemed sexually explicit, and was considered to have an offensive political viewpoint
  3. George written by Alex Gino
    Reasons: challenged because it includes a transgender child, and the “sexuality was not appropriate at elementary levels”
  4. I Am Jazz written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
    Reasons: challenged because it portrays a transgender child and because of language, sex education, and offensive viewpoints
  5. Two Boys Kissing written by David Levithan
    Reasons: challenged because its cover has an image of two boys kissing, and it was considered to include sexually explicit LGBT content
  6. Looking for Alaska written by John Green
    Reasons: challenged for a sexually explicit scene that may lead a student to “sexual experimentation”
  7. Big Hard Sex Criminals written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by Chip Zdarsky
    Reason: challenged because it was considered sexually explicit
  8. Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread written by Chuck Palahniuk
    Reasons: challenged for profanity, sexual explicitness, and being “disgusting and all around offensive”
  9. Little Bill (series) written by Bill Cosby and and illustrated by Varnette P. Honeywood
    Reason: challenged because of criminal sexual allegations against the author
  10. Eleanor & Park written by Rainbow Rowell
    Reason: challenged for offensive language
  1. Looking for Alaska by John Green
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group
  2. Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James
    Reasons: sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and other (“poorly written,” “concerns that a group of teenagers will want to try it”)
  3. I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
    Reasons: inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint, and unsuited for age group
  4. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin
    Reasons: anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“wants to remove from collection to ward off complaints”)
  5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
    Reasons: offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“profanity and atheism”)
  6. The Holy Bible
    Reasons: religious viewpoint
  7. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
    Reasons: violence and other (“graphic images”)
  8. Habibi by Craig Thompson
    Reasons: nudity, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group
  9. Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan by Jeanette Winter
    Reasons: religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, and violence
  10. Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
    Reasons: homosexuality and other (“condones public displays of affection”)
  1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying”
  2. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
    Reasons: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions”
  3. And Tango Makes Three Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
    Reasons: anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “promotes the homosexual agenda”
  4. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “contains controversial issues”
  5. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
    Reasons: nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. Additional reasons: “alleges it is child pornography”
  6. Saga by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples
    Reasons: anti-Family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group
  7. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
    Reasons: offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence
  8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
    Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation”
  9. A Stolen Life Jaycee Dugard
    Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
  10. Drama by Raina Telgemeier
    Reason: sexually explicit
  1. Captain Underpants (series) by Dav Pilkey
    Reasons: offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence
  2. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
  3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  4. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
    Reasons: nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
    Reasons: religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group
  6. A Bad Boy Can Be Good for A Girl by Tanya Lee Stone
    Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit
  7. Looking for Alaska by John Green
    Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
    Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  9. Bless Me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
    Reasons: occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
  10. Bone (series) by Jeff Smith
    Reason: political viewpoint, racism, violence
  1. Captain Underpants (series) by Dav Pilkey
    Reasons: offensive language, unsuited for age group
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
  3. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
    Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group
  4. Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit
  5. And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
    Reasons: homosexuality, unsuited for age group
  6. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
    Reasons: homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
  7. Looking for Alaska by John Green
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
  8. Scary Stories (series) by Alvin Schwartz
    Reasons: unsuited for age group, violence
  9. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit
  10. Beloved by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence
  1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series) by Lauren Myracle 
    Reasons: offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  2. The Color of Earth (series) by Kim Dong Hwa
    Reasons: nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  3. The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
    Reasons: anti-ethnic, anti-family, insensitivity, offensive language, occult/satanic, violence
  4. My Mom's Having A Baby! A Kid's Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy by Dori Hillestad Butler
    Reasons: nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: offensive language, racism, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  6. Alice (series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
    Reasons: nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint
  7. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
    Reasons: insensitivity, nudity, racism, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
  8. What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones
    Reasons: nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit
  9. Gossip Girl (series) by Cecily Von Ziegesar
    Reasons: drugs, offensive language, sexually explicit
  10. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    Reasons: offensive language, racism
  1. And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
    Reasons: homosexuality, religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: offensive language, racism, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
  3. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
    Reasons: insensitivity, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit
  4. Crank by Ellen Hopkins
    Reasons: drugs, offensive language, sexually explicit
  5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
    Reasons: sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
  6. Lush by Natasha Friend
    Reasons: drugs, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  7. What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones
    Reasons: sexism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  8. Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
    Reasons: drugs, inaccurate, offensive language, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint
  9. Revolutionary Voices edited by Amy Sonnie
    Reasons: homosexuality, sexually explicit
  10. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
    Reasons: religious viewpoint, violence