Banned Books Week 2018: Top Ten Challenged or Banned Books
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Banned Books Week 2018: Top Ten Challenged or Banned Books

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Banded Books 2018This week (September 23-29) is Banned Books Week, the American Library Association’s celebration of “the freedom to read”. We’re lucky to live in a time where it’s pretty easy to get ahold of a book—no matter how hard someone wants to ban it. But there’s still plenty of cause for concern: this past year saw an increase in censorship attempts and a revitalized effort to remove books from communal shelves to avoid controversy.

Banned Book Week reminds us that bans and challenges (a failed attempt at a ban) target not only literature, but sometimes venture beyond books— affecting DVDs, databases, displays, and art exhibits. According to the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) there has been an increase in “blanket bans”: removing collections of books that share commonalities. For example, removing all LGBT books, books by a certain author, or all R-rated DVDs. The OIF is also noticing more censorship incidents where administrators remove books without following policy because they are trying to (unsuccessfully) avoid controversy.

So, what can you do to avoid the slippery slope of censorship in your community? Stay informed of challenges at your local library. Support your local librarian and free and open access to library materials. Speak out where you can about the importance of unrestricted reading. Perhaps best of all, go check out a banned or challenged book and enjoy it, no matter who wants to stop you.

Here’s a list of the ALA’s top banned or challenged books from the last year:

Thirteen Reasons Why1. Thirteen Reasons Why
by Jay Asher ISBN: 159514188X
This 2007 New York Times bestseller 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.

Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
by Sherman Alexie 
ISBN: 0316013692
Consistently challenged since its publication in 2007 for acknowledging issues such as poverty, alcoholism, and sexuality, this National Book Award winner was protested in school curriculums because of profanity and situations that were deemed sexually explicit.

Drama3. Drama
by Raina Telgemeier 
ISBN: 0545326990
A Stonewall Honor Award-winner, this 2012 graphic novel from an acclaimed cartoonist was banned in school libraries because it includes LGBT characters and was considered “confusing.”

The Kite Runner4. The Kite Runner
by Khaled Hosseini 
ISBN: 1594480001
The Kite Runner—a critically acclaimed, multigenerational novel—was banned because it includes sexual violence and was thought to “lead to terrorism” and “promote Islam.”

George5. George
by Alex Gino 
ISBN: 0545812542
Written for elementary-age children, this Lambda Literary Award winner was banned because it includes a transgender child.

Sex is a Funny Word: a Book about Bodies, Feelings, and You6. Sex is a Funny Word
written by Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smyth
 ISBN: 1609806069
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.”

To Kill a Mockingbird7. To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee 
ISBN: 0446310786
A Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and American classic, To Kill a Mockingbird was banned because of violence and its use of the N-word.

The Hate U Give8. The Hate U Give
by Angie Thomas 
ISBN: 0062498533
Despite winning multiple awards and being the most searched-for book on Goodreads during its debut year, this YA novel banned in school libraries and curriculums because it was considered “pervasively vulgar” and because of drug use, profanity, and offensive language.

And Tango Makes Three9. And Tango Makes Three
by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, illustrated by Henry Cole 
ISBN: 148144994X
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.

I Am Jazz10. I Am Jazz
by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
 ISBN: 0803741073
This autobiographical picture book co-written by the 13-year-old protagonist was challenged because it addresses gender identity.

To learn more about Banned Books Week, check out the ALA’s lists of the most frequently challenged and banned books. Join the conversation over on Facebook and share your experiences with banned books.


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