Top ten most-challenged books of 2021Posted on
Here at the C.H. Booth Library we believe in your right to read whatever you want. No judgment. We will always keep your reading history private and we will honor your confidentiality regarding what you read. Here are a few things we believe in: Respect for your rights, respect for your intellectual freedom, respect for you, respect for your neighbors.
The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 729 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services in America in 2021. Of the 1,597 titles that were targeted, here are the ten most challenged – along with the reasons cited for censoring the books and reasons to read them.
The C.H. Booth Library has them all. Our recommendation? Read them. Read them all! Censorship divides us. Reading unites us.
This sentiment is codified in the policies of the C.H. Booth Library: “The Library assures free access to its holdings for all patrons, who are free to select or reject for themselves anything in the collection. The Library is a forum for all points of view on current and historical issues and adheres to the principles of intellectual freedom as expressed in the Library Bill of Rights and contained within the Freedom to Read and Freedom to View principles adopted by the American Library Association.”
- Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
Reasons: Banned, challenged, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, and because it was considered to have sexually explicit images. Reasons to read it: In its review*, School Library Journal calls this, “A book to be savored rather than devoured, this memoir will resonate with teens, especially fans of Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and Mason Deaver’s I Wish You All the Best. It’s also a great resource for those who identify as non- binary or asexual as well as for those who know someone who identifies that way and wish to better understand.”
- Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison
Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to be sexually explicit. Reasons to read it: In its starred review, Publisher’s Weekly writes, “Focusing on the workers who will only ever be welcome in gated communities as hired help, Evison’s quiet novel beautifully considers the deterioration of the American Dream.“
- 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. Reasons to read it: In its review, Kirkus Reviews calls it, “A critical, captivating, merciful mirror for growing up black and queer today.”
- 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. Reasons to read it: In its review, Booklist writes, “Elegant prose and gently escalating action will leave readers gasping for breath at the tragic climax and moving conclusion.“
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, violence, and because it was thought to promote an anti-police message and indoctrination of a social agenda. Reasons to read it: In its review, The Horn Book calls this “…a powerful, in-your-face novel” and notes that, like life, “…most characters are multifaceted, proving that Starr’s world is not all black or white (or black vs. white, for that matter). The story, with so many issues addressed, can feel overwhelming at times, but then again, so can the life of an African American teen.”
- 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. Reasons to read it: Wikipedia notes “…this first-person narrative novel, told from the perspective of a Native American teenager, was the most frequently challenged book from 2010 to 2019.”
- Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
Reasons: Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and degrading to women. Reasons to read it: In its review, Kirkus Reviews writes, “Debut novelist Andrews succeeds brilliantly in painting a portrait of a kid whose responses to emotional duress are entirely believable and sympathetic…”
- The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Banned and challenged because it depicts child sexual abuse and was considered sexually explicit. Reasons to read it: Morrison is a Pulitzer-prize winner. Do you really need another reason?
- This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson
Reasons: Banned, challenged, relocated, and restricted for providing sexual education and LGBTQIA+ content. Reasons to read it: Google Books calls this “a must-read,” describing it as “[a] funny and pertinent book about being lesbian, bisexual, gay, queer, transgender or just curious – for everybody, no matter their gender or sexuality.”
- Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin
Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to be sexually explicit. Reasons to read it: In its review, Library Media Connection writes, “This book examines a sensitive issue and explains the spectrum and diversity within the transgender community as well as defines the distinction between transgenders and individuals identified as gay lesbian, bisexual, or queer.“
* to read the reviews in their original form, use the statewide ResearchIT database by logging in with the barcode on the back of your library card. Easy, free, informative.