Weekly Update - 09.21.22

September is month that libraries have a lot of fun with. First, it’s Library Card Sign-up Month; which means we’re hard at work (and having fun) informing the public about all the services they can access for FREE with their library cards. And September is also when we celebrate Banned Books Week! This year Banned Books Week is September 18 – 24. The American Library Association has released their Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2021 list and there are some great titles on it.

Now, I know some readers won’t enjoy all of the titles on this list for a variety of reasons, but I wanted to share these titles and some others from previous years that you may have read and not even realized that anyone challenged their space on the shelves of libraries.

To kick this off, I’ll start with some familiar titles that have been banned or challenged in states around the country. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is one such title that has made the Top 10 list on numerous occasions for such reasons as its use of the N-word and depictions of violence. And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, illustrated by Henry Cole, is a children’s picture book about two male penguins who are given an egg which they help hatch and then raise the baby penguin together; it is based on the true story of two (and then three) penguins in the Central Park Zoo.

Continuing on with another repeatedly challenged book is The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. This book makes it to #8 on the 2021 list due to its sexually explicit content and for “containing controversial issues”. In fact, 9 of the 10 titles that comprise 2021’s list were challenged or banned, in part, for being sexually explicit; 5 of those 9 were also challenged for LGBTQIA+ content. These titles are: #10, Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin; #9, This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson; #7, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews; #6, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie; #4, Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez; #3, All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson; #2, Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison; and #1, Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe. The final title on the Top 10 list is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, which is another repeat challenge. This one is challenged for profanity and violence, and for promoting an anti-police message.

Over the years there have been a vast number of challenged books. And the reasons for removing them from shelves vary. Maybe they contain drugs/alcohol/smoking, explicit content, derogatory terms, abuse, promote certain viewpoints, or depict poor family values. If you’re curious about these titles and those that have been challenged in previous years, check out the ALA website or the Banned Books website, both of which are listed below. Enjoy reading!

American Library Association – Top 10 Most Challenged Books List 2021: https://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks/top10

Banned Books Week: https://bannedbooksweek.org/