Top Ten Challenged Books of 2016

ALA Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books, Banned and Challenged Books

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Top Ten Challenged Books of 2016

Out of 323 challenges reported to the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, the Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2016 are

  1. This One Summer written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
    This young adult graphic novel, winner of both a Printz and a Caldecott Honor Award, was restricted, relocated, and banned because it includes LGBT characters, drug use, and profanity, and it was considered sexually explicit with mature themes.
  2. Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
    Parents, librarians, and administrators banned this Stonewall Honor Award-winning graphic novel for young adults because it includes LGBT characters, was deemed sexually explicit, and was considered to have an offensive political viewpoint.
  3. George written by Alex Gino
    Despite winning a Stonewall Award and a Lambda Literary Award, administrators removed this children’s novel because it includes a transgender child, and the “sexuality was not appropriate at elementary levels.
  4. I Am Jazz written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
    This children’s picture book memoir was challenged and removed because it portrays a transgender child and because of language, sex education, and offensive viewpoints.
  5. Two Boys Kissing written by David Levithan
    Included on the National Book Award longlist and designated a Stonewall Honor Book, this young adult novel was challenged because its cover has an image of two boys kissing, and it was considered to include sexually explicit LGBT content.
  6. Looking for Alaska written by John Green
    This 2006 Printz Award winner is a young adult novel that was challenged and restricted for a sexually explicit scene that may lead a student to “sexual experimentation.”
  7. Big Hard Sex Criminals written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by Chip Zdarsky
    Considered to be sexually explicit by library staff and administrators, this compilation of adult comic books by two prolific award-winning artists was banned and challenged.
  8. Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread written by Chuck Palahniuk
    This collection of adult short stories, which received positive reviews from Newsweek and the New York Times, was challenged for profanity, sexual explicitness, and being “disgusting and all around offensive.”
  9. Little Bill (series) written by Bill Cosby and illustrated by Varnette P. Honeywood
    This children’s book series was challenged because of criminal sexual allegations against the author.
  10. Eleanor & Park written by Rainbow Rowell
    One of seven New York Times Notable Children’s Books and a Printz Honor recipient, this young adult novel was challenged for offensive language.

Talking Points

  • Yes, books are still banned. Five of the 10 titles on the Top Ten list were removed from the location where the challenge took place. On average, OIF finds that 10% of challenges result in the removal of the book.
  • The First Amendment guarantees all of us the freedom to read. The Library Bill of Rights, a foundational document of the library profession, states libraries should challenge censorship and present all points of view, for the enlightenment of all people.
  • For the first time in Top Ten history, a book was challenged solely because of its author. Bill Cosby’s Little Bill series was challenged because of sexual allegations against the author.
  • Challenges continue to target LGBT material, and there is a rise in “sexually explicit” as a challenge category. The rise in sexually explicit challenges suggests that parents are transitioning from “helicopter parents” to “Velcro parents.”
  • The Office for Intellectual Freedom compiles the Top Ten list by documenting public challenges (challenges that are reported in the media), as well as censorship submitted through the office’s reporting form, in our database.

Social Media 

Join the conversation by using #WordsHavePower, #NationalLibraryWeek and #Top10. Follow the Office for Intellectual Freedom on Twitter and Facebook to stay updated on censorship and privacy trends in libraries.

Tell the authors how much their words mean to you:

Alex Gino @lxgino Raina Telgemeier @goraina
Mariko Tamaki @marikotamaki Varnette P. Honeywood @VPHoneywood
Rainbow Rowell @rainbowrowell Jazz Jennings @jazzjennings__
Jessica Herthel @jessicaherthel Bill Cosby @BillCosby
Shelagh McNicholas @shelaghmcn John Green @johngreen
Jillian Tamaki @dirtbagg Chuck Palahniuk @chuckpalahniuk
David Levithan @loversdiction Chip Zdarsky @zdarsky

Banned Books Week Theme

Words Have Power. Read a Banned BookThe theme for this upcoming Banned Books Week (Sept. 24 – Sept. 30) is “Words Have Power. Read a Banned Book.” The words in these banned and challenged books have the power to connect readers to literary communities and offer diverse perspectives. And when these books are threatened with removal from communal shelves, your words have the power to challenge censorship.

Stay tuned for the release of the 2017 Banned Books Week products on the ALA Store later this week. The Banned Books Week theme was designed by Tom Deja of Bossman Graphics.

State of America’s Libraries Report

The State of America’s Libraries report is packed with issues, trends, resources and studies about U.S. libraries. View the report here. On page 17, learn about current censorship issues such as trigger warnings and the Virginia House Bill 516, and how the Office for Intellectual Freedom revamped its challenge support resources.

Media Contacts

Media interested in scheduling interviews with ALA spokespersons may contact Macey Morales, deputy director of ALA’s Public Awareness Office, 312-280-4393,; Steve Zalusky, manager of communications, 312-280-1546,; or Heather Cho, media relations specialist, or 312-280-4020.

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