Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
Reasons: Banned, challenged, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, and because it was considered to have sexually explicit images
All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content, profanity, and because it was considered to be sexually explicit
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Banned and challenged because it depicts child sexual abuse and was considered sexually explicit
Flamer by Mike Curato
Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, claimed to be sexually explicit
Looking for Alaska by John Green
Reasons: LGBTQIA+, considered sexually explicit
The Perks of being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: Depictions of sexual abuse, LGBTQIA+ content, drug use, profanity and because it was considered to be sexually explicit
Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison
Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to be sexually explicit
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
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
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Reasons: Considered to be sexually explicit
Crank by Ellen Hopkins
Reasons: Considered to be sexually explicit, drug use
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
Reasons: Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and degrading to women
This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson
Reasons: Banned, challenged, relocated, and restricted for providing sexual education and LGBTQIA+ content.
Brooklyn Public Library is adding our voice to those fighting for the rights of teens nationwide to read what they like, discover themselves, and form their own opinions. Inspired by the American Library Association's Freedom to Read Statement, BPL's Books Unbanned initiative is a response to an increasingly coordinated and effective effort to remove books tackling a wide range of topics from library shelves.
For a limited time, individuals ages 13-21 can apply for a free BPL eCard, providing access to our full eBook collection as well as our learning databases. To apply, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is Book Banning? Why Do We Have Banned Books Week?
From the American Library Association's Website:
"Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to read and spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. For 40 years, the annual event has brought 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. The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted for removal or restriction in libraries and schools. 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."
In a time of intense political polarization, library staff in every state are facing an unprecedented number of attempts to ban books. ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked ALA documented 1,269 demands to censor library books and resources in 2022, the highest number of attempted book bans since ALA began compiling data about censorship in libraries more than 20 years ago. Doubling the 729 book challenges reported in 2021.
The theme for Banned Books Week 2023 is "Let Freedom Read." When we ban books, we're closing off readers to people, places, and perspectives. But when we stand up for stories, we unleash the power that lies inside every book. We liberate the array of voices that need to be heard and the scenes that need to be seen. Let freedom read!
Why are books challenged?
Often challenges are motivated by a desire to protect children from “inappropriate” sexual content or “offensive” language. The following were the top three reasons cited for challenging materials as reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom:
What is the difference between a book challenge or a book ban?
A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. Due to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens, most challenges are unsuccessful and most materials are retained in the school curriculum or library collection.
Books are still being banned and challenged today. A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials.
While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, the books have remained available. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.
What Can You Do? Get Involved!
Help spread the word. Use the hashtag #bannedbooksweek to declare your right to read.
Exercise your reading rights. Check out a banned book. Encourage your book club to discuss rebellious reads.
Brush up on banned book history. The latest edition of Banned Books: Defending Our Freedom to Read contains an annotated list of challenged and banned books, as well as the history of literary censorship.
Participate in the Stand for the Banned Virtual Read-out. Join readers from across the world in filming yourself reading from your favorite banned book. The videos are featured on the Banned Books Week YouTube channel.
Stay informed. If you hear of a challenge at your local library, support your librarian and free and open access to library materials by contacting the Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF). OIF estimates it learns of only 3-18% of book challenges. Find out your library's policy for reviewing challenged materials. Stay updated about intellectual freedom by signing up for the free Intellectual Freedom News newsletter, or reading the Journal for Intellectual Freedom and Privacy.