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September 27, 2020 | Devin Cook

It’s Banned Books Week!

It’s Banned Books Week! Time to celebrate your right to read and access information. It launched in the 1980’s to bring awareness to an uptick in challenges and bans of book titles in schools, libraries, and bookstores, and the 1982 Supreme Court Case, Island Trees School District v. Pico, which ruled that books cannot be banned by school officials for their content. Usually in the last week of September, Banned Book Week is meant to bring “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.” 

Every year the American Library Association Office of Intellectual Freedom compiles a list of books challenged, reported by the media, teachers or librarians across the country. In 2019, there was a 14% increase in challenges compared to 2018. Eight of the Top Ten Challenged Books of 2019 were challenged specifically for containing LGBTQ+ content. Censorship can do harm to our community, especially to LGBTQ+ youth and young people of color, who need representation to live a healthy life and develop healthy self-esteem. 

The ALA also encourages readers to report censorship:

“The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom provides confidential support to anyone undergoing a challenge or ban. Support can come in the form of letters, book reviews, resources, talking points or emotional support. Report censorship online or by calling 1-800-545-2433, ext. 4226.”

Want to exercise your freedom to read controversial books? Check out some of these “Most Challenged” titles we have available at the library. 

*Warning: some of these books are deemed “dangerous” to read. They have been challenged for “vulgarity,” “sexual overtones”, “sexual undertones”, LGBTQ+ content, or content that is deemed inappropriate for whatever reason. Though some information is dangerous–specifically, misinformation–it is still up to the reader to decide, and it is your right to access information of all kinds. One of our missions as a public library is to make sure you have access. 

For adult readers:

Before the Mayflower by Lerone Bennett Jr.

Beloved by Toni Morrison 

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger 

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James 

Full Disclosure by Stormy Daniels 

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe 

Go Tell It On The Mountain by James Baldwin

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood 

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Young Adult titles:

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas 

Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky 

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

Rani Patel in Full Effect by Sonia Patel

Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher 

This Book Is Gay by Juno Dawson

Weird Girl and What’s His Name by Meagan Brothers

Juvenile titles:

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

George by Alex Gino

Harry Potter (series) by J. K. Rowling 

Hey Kiddo by Jarrett Krosoczka

My Body My Choice by Robin Stevenson

My Year in the Middle by Lila Quintero Weaver

The Pants Project by Cat Clarke 

Redwood and Ponytail by K. A. Holt

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki

The Truth As Told By Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor

Who Was Harriet Tubman? by Yona Zeldis McDonough

Early books:

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson

Heather Has Two Mommies by Lesléa Newman 

I Am Jazz! by Jessica Herthel, Jazz Jennings 

It’s Okay to be Different by Todd Parr

Mommy’s Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow

Neither by Airlie Anderson

Prince and Knight by Daniel Haack

Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall

Sparkle Boy by Lesléa Newman

Visiting Day by Jacqueline Woodson

Want to Play Trucks? by Ann Stott

We March by Shane Evans

Who Are You? The Kid’s Guide to Gender Identity by Brook Pessin-Whedbee

Censorship Is A Dead End. Find your freedom to read during Banned Books Week!