Held each year during the last week of September, Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to read, the value of free and open access to information, diversity and equity and to raise awareness of the ongoing threat of censorship. Banned Books week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores, and libraries. More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982, according to the American Library Association (ALA).
In 2019 eight of the 10 most challenged books were challenged or banned because of LGBTQIA+ content. In 2019, the ALA tracked 377 attempts to censor library, school, and university materials and services, encompassing 566 books that were challenged or banned.
When there is a book challenge at your library or school there is action you can take:
SPEAK OUT AT COMMUNITY MEETINGS
CONTACT THE OFFICE FOR INTELLECTUAL FREEDOM
WRITE A LETTER TO THE EDITOR OF YOUR LOCAL NEWSPAPER
TOP 10 CHALLENGED BOOKS OF 2019
George by Alex Gino 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”
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
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
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”
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
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”
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity and for “vulgarity and sexual overtones”
Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier Reasons: Challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and for concerns that it goes against “family values/morals”
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
And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson illustrated by Henry Cole Reason: Challenged and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content
View previous years' challenged books here.