Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. 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. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.
Banned Books Week 2022 will be held September 18 – 24. The theme of this year’s event is “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.”
By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship. The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) compiles lists of challenged books as reported in the media and submitted by librarians and teachers across the country. The Top 10 Challenged Books of 2021 are:
- Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
Reasons: Banned, challenged, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to have sexually explicit images
- Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison
Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to be sexually explicit
- All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and profanity and because it was considered to be sexually explicit
- 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
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity and violence and because it was thought to promote an anti-police message and indoctrination of a social agenda
- 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
- Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
Reasons: Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and degrading to women
- The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Banned and challenged because it depicts child sexual abuse and was considered sexually explicit
- This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson
Reasons: Banned, challenged, relocated, and restricted for providing sex education and LGBTQIA+ content
- Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin
Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to be sexually explicit.
Look for ALA’s Top Challenged Books of 2022 list in April 2023!
Why should kids read banned books?
The Washington Post says, " Kids crave relatable books. Banned books often deal with subjects that are realistic, timely and topical. Young people may find a character going through exactly what they are, which makes it a powerful reading experience and helps the reader sort out thorny issues such as grief, divorce, sexual assault, bullying, prejudice and sexual identity. " https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2019/09/27/why-your-kid-should-read-banned-books/