ALA Releases Annual Top 10 Most Challenged Books List

ALA Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books, Banned and Challenged Books, Banned Books Week, General Interest, Intellectual Freedom Issues, Office for Intellectual Freedom

It’s National Library Week, which means it’s time for the release of the annual list of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2023 and the State of America’s Libraries Report, which highlights the ways libraries and library workers have taken action to address community needs with innovative and critical services, as well as the challenges brought on by censorship attempts.

“In looking at the titles of the most challenged books from last year, it’s obvious that the pressure groups are targeting books about LGBTQIA+ people and people of color,” said ALA President Emily Drabinski. “At ALA, we are fighting for the freedom to choose what you want to read. Shining a light on the harmful workings of these pressure groups is one of the actions we must take to protect our right to read.”

Below are the Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2023:

  1. Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
    Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, claimed to be sexually explicit
  2. All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
    Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, claimed to be sexually explicit
  3. This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson
    Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, sex education, claimed to be sexually explicit
  4. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
    Reasons: Claimed to be sexually explicit, LGBTQIA+ content, rape, drugs, profanity
  5. Flamer by Mike Curato
    Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, claimed to be sexually explicit
  6. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: Rape, incest, claimed to be sexually explicit, EDI content
  7. (TIE) Tricks by Ellen Hopkins
    Reasons:  Claimed to be sexually explicit, drugs, rape, LGBTQIA+ content
  8. (TIE) Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
    Reasons: Claimed to be sexually explicit, profanity
  9. Let’s Talk About It by Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan
    Reasons: Claimed to be sexually explicit, sex education, LGBTQIA+ content
  10. Sold by Patricia McCormick
    Reasons: Claimed to be sexually explicit, rape

Top 10 artwork is available for download at: https://bit.ly/ALA-Top10

ALA documented 4,240 unique book titles targeted for censorship in 2023—a 65% surge over 2022 numbers—as well as 1,247 demands to censor library books, materials, and resources. Pressure groups focused on public libraries in addition to targeting school libraries. The number of titles targeted for censorship at public libraries increased by 92% over the previous year, accounting for about 46% of all book challenges in 2023.

The Top 10 Books are featured in Unite Against Book Bans’ Book Résumé resource. Launched in February, these résumés support librarians, educators, parents, students, and other community advocates when they defend books from censorship. Created in collaboration with the publishing industry and library workers, each book résumé summarizes the book’s significance and educational value, including a synopsis, reviews from professional journals, awards, accolades and more. Where possible, the book résumés also include information about how a title has been successfully retained in school districts and libraries after a demand to censor the book.

“These are books that contain the ideas, the opinions, and the voices that censors want to silence – stories by and about LGBTQ+ persons and people of color,” said ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom Director Deborah Caldwell-Stone. “Each challenge, each demand to censor these books is an attack on our freedom to read, our right to live the life we choose, and an attack on libraries as community institutions that reflect the rich diversity of our nation. When we tolerate censorship, we risk losing all of this. During National Library Week, we should all take action to protect and preserve libraries and our rights.”

This week is also the second anniversary of Right to Read Day, a day of action launched by Unite Against Book Bans that takes place the Monday of National Library Week. This year’s theme is “Don’t Let Censorship Eclipse Your Freedom to Read,” and anyone who supports the right to read is encouraged to take action today by contacting Congress. If you missed it, you can still take action — the campaign will remain active through the end of National Library Week!

ALA is also pleased to debut the theme for Banned Books Week 2024 — Freed Between the Lines — which honors the ways in which books bring us freedom and that access to information is worth preserving. Banned Books Week will take place September 22-28, 2024.