Banned Books Week runs September 26-October 2
The Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2020 are listed below. The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 156 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services in 2020. Of the 273 books that were targeted, here are the most challenged, along with the reasons cited for censoring the books:
- George by Alex Gino
Reasons: Challenged, banned, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, conflicting with a religious viewpoint, and not reflecting “the values of our community”
- 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
- 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”
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Reasons: Banned and challenged for racial slurs and racist stereotypes, and their negative effect on students
- The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and depicts child sexual abuse
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Reasons: Challenged for profanity, and it was thought to promote an anti-police message
[Click poster for larger image.]
Three more Banned Books Week online events are coming up.
- Ask Jason Reynolds Anything* (*About Banned Books)
Tuesday, September 28, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. EDT / 12:00– 1:00 p.m. CDT / 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. PDT
Facebook Live: https://www.facebook.com/bannedbooksweek
Join Banned Books Week Honorary Chair and New York Times bestselling author Jason Reynolds for a conversation about censorship, young people’s literature, and the ways that books bring us together! Moderated by Emmy Award–winning writer, arts organizer, and librarian Scott Woods, this conversation will feature questions submitted by teens around the country. This livestream is free and open to all, and a great opportunity to engage your students and patrons during Banned Books Week!
Reynolds is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen books for young people, including All American Boys (with Brendan Kiely), Ghost, Long Way Down, Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks, and Stamped (with Ibram X. Kendi). A multiple National Book Award finalist, Reynolds has also received a Newbery Honor, a Printz Honor, an NAACP Image Award, and several Coretta Scott King Award honors. Reynolds recently received the Carnegie Medal for his middle grades novel Look Both Ways. He is currently serving a two-year term as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature for the Library of Congress.
As an advocate for storytelling and an outspoken critic of censorship, Reynolds is the perfect person to headline Banned Books Week 2021, which takes place September 26 – October 2 and has the theme, “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.”
- #BannedBooksChat on Twitter with Laurie Halse Anderson
Wednesday, September 29, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. EDT / 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. CDT / 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. PDT
Join Laurie Halse Anderson, the author of the frequently challenged titles Speak and Shout, for a #BannedBooksChat on Twitter! Speak, a National Book Award finalist, appeared on ALA’s Top Ten Most Challenged Books list for 2020. The sequel, Shout, was one of more than a dozen titles removed from book club reading lists this summer in Leander, Texas. We’ll discuss the censorship of Anderson’s work, the impact of censorship on young people, and the ways books unite us during this Twitter chat.
- #BannedBooksChat on Twitter with Alex Gino
Thursday, September 30, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. EDT / 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. CDT / 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. PDT
Join Alex Gino, the author of George (Melissa’s Story), for a #BannedBooksChat on Twitter! Since its publication in late 2015, George (Melissa’s Story) has been an annual fixture on ALA’s Top Ten Most Challenged books list. It topped the most recent top ten, with challenges, bans, and restrictions for LGBTQIA+ content, conflicting with a religious viewpoint, and not reflecting “the values of our community.” In this Twitter chat, we’ll discuss the importance LGBTQ+ content, why it is frequently targeted by censors, and more!
How Twitter Chats Work: The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords in a Tweet, which makes it easy to see the full conversation on a particular topic. For our Twitter chat, we will use the hashtag #BannedBooksChat
At the time of the chat, type #BannedBooksChat into the search box at the top of your Twitter homepage to see the conversation. Listen in, watch the comments from other attendees, and speak up when you are ready!
When discussion questions are posed, they will be labeled with a Q and a number representing the order. If you are responding to a question, use an A and the number of the prompt. To ensure your comment is automatically pulled into the chat feed for others to see, be sure to include #BannedBooksChat in your Tweet.