By: Ellie Diaz
The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom recently released the Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2020.
Me waiting for the banned book list to drop pic.twitter.com/spttK0waTF— Christine Ethier (@Fishshelf) April 5, 2021
Titles on this year’s list include All American Boys, Speak, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, and Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice. The list reflects the trend in demands to remove books from libraries and schools that address racism and racial justice. Anyone can reach out to the Office for Intellectual Freedom for support when facing a ban or challenge at their library, school, or university.
Below are some reactions and responses from authors, librarians, and readers about the Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2020. Find shareable graphics and resources on the ALA website.
When will people realize that:— Angie Thomas (@angiecthomas) April 7, 2021
1. Having a book on the “Banned Book List” is a badge of honor.
2. Banning books only make young people want to read said books even more 😂. Every time a school distract bans THUG, the sales in that area skyrocket. https://t.co/aKTw1oDZIN
Hardly surprised that almost all these challenged books discuss racism, sexism, or homophobia. But they will not be cancelled. Thank you to all who championed our challenged books. Thank you for supporting #Stamped. Here’s my full statement. 2/2https://t.co/eT07aREx6j pic.twitter.com/HYscIxicrA— Ibram X. Kendi (@DrIbram) April 6, 2021
“I am proud of the work that Jason Reynolds and I have done on Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You, and not at all surprised to hear it is one of the ALA Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2020.
Stamped delivers a research-based history of racist and antiracist thought directly to young people who have the potential to create an antiracist future of equity and justice for all.It is ironic that our book is being challenged since it documents how generations of Americans have challenged the idea that the racial groups are equals and have fought to suppress the very truths contained on every page of Stamped. The heartbeat of racism is denial, and the history in Stamped will not be denied, nor will young people’s access to this book be cancelled.
We must provide readers of all ages, races, backgrounds, and political affiliations with the tools to discuss racism today and to know America’s racial story. We must end the indoctrination that this nation is post-racial and colorblind that adults impart onto young people when we don’t discuss racism with them and challenge books that do. The fact that Stamped is being challenged proves just how necessary and effective it is for young people. I’m grateful to the librarians, educators, organizations, booksellers, parents, and—most of all—young people who have championed this book over the past year. We stand by you in this fight.”
Claiming that a book about surviving sexual assault is biased against male students completely ignores that boys/men/males can be victims. To avoid discussion of sexual violence breeds ignorance, fosters perpetrators, and guarantees countless more victims. @MacKidsSL @RAINN https://t.co/pI5ZzWSWnO— Laurie Halse Anderson is on semi-hiatus to write (@halseanderson) April 5, 2021
21 yrs after pub, Speak is still being banned. Most of the other books in the Top 10 are censored for discussing racism. Seems like book banners want to hold on to systematic racism & rape culture, doesn’t it?#SpeakUp #ReadFree@MacKidsSL @ncte @ALANorg @ProjectLITComm https://t.co/8lGtCZxbxm— Laurie Halse Anderson is on semi-hiatus to write (@halseanderson) April 5, 2021
So STAMPED is #2 most banned book, and ALL AMERICAN BOYS is #3. I hate this. Let the babies have books. If you disagree with something I’ve said, why not engage in discourse instead of discouragement? https://t.co/4QlIlVpaJ7— Jason Reynolds (@JasonReynolds83) April 6, 2021
As a former school librarian, there is one positive about Speak being on this “banned list.” When teens see it on the list, more will read it. My students were always inspired to read “the banned books!” May Speak “land in the hands” that need to read it…— fraseroom154 (@fraseroom154) April 6, 2021
I 💖 Banned Books! 📚— Kelli Christiansen (@KECbiblioGal) April 6, 2021
Attempts to ban books reflect the power of books—and the fear people exhibit while trying to suppress ideas that differ from their own. Those are exactly the ideas everyone should be reading about.#BannedBooksListhttps://t.co/RG6ZSXT9c4
On a positive note, when I was younger I looked for banned books to read. It makes it more enticing. Or is it just me? pic.twitter.com/aWNjJ55NZn— Michelle Scott (@Shellie_Scott1) April 6, 2021
I use All-American Boys with my grade 7 students. This year we used it along with Ghost Boys, Dear Martin, and others. Today kids opted to take whole class to discuss the Chauvin trial. Necessary conversations that kids WANT and NEED to have, and they grow from these books.— Sarah Doyle (@SarahCDoyle0517) April 6, 2021
My late aunt was a middle school librarian and stocked all the books that had been banned across the country. Didn’t make a big deal about it, but the kids knew and loved her for making sure they had access to them. Nothing made her angrier than taking books away from kids.— Michelle is encouraging everyone to get vaccinated (@namaste1813) April 6, 2021
Idk about you, but when books get banned/challenged it just makes me want to read them more! Which Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2020 book is on your TBR list? HT:@ALALibrary https://t.co/ZeR7WeFbIR pic.twitter.com/e5VlFUkR3A— Jessica Lawrence BN (@JLawrenceBN) April 7, 2021
Ellie Diaz is the Program Officer at the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. With her journalism background and fierce devotion to the freedom to read, Ellie collaborates with experts on organizing ALA’s Banned Books Week and several other projects within OIF. As a biblio-writer, she enjoys exploring the intersection of advocacy and literature.