Why are there 11 most challenged books this year?
By: Kristin Pekoll, OIF Assistant Director
On April 8, the American Library Association (ALA) released The State of America’s Libraries Report 2019, an annual summary of library trends released during National Library Week, April 7–13, that outlines statistics and issues affecting all types of libraries. This report includes a snapshot of censorship in libraries, schools and universities: who initiates challenges, where are they taking place, and what are the reasons?
Lights, Camera, Action – Top 11 Video
Top 11 Most Challenged Books
The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 347 challenges to library, school and university materials and services in 2018. View the full list of reasons at ala.org/bbooks/top.
Of the 483 books challenged or banned in 2018, below are the Top 11 Most Challenged Books:
- George by Alex Gino
Reasons: for including a transgender character
- A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG Keller
Reasons: including LGBTQIA+ content, and for political and religious viewpoints
- Captain Underpants series written and illustrated by Dav Pilkey
Reasons: for including a same-sex couple, and it was perceived as encouraging disruptive behavior
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Reasons: for profanity, drug use, and sexual references, and it was deemed “anti-cop”
- Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
Reasons: for including LGBTQIA+ characters and themes
- Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Reasons: for addressing teen suicide
- This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
Reasons: for profanity, sexual references, and certain illustrations
- Skippyjon Jones series written and illustrated by Judy Schachner
Reason: for depicting cultural stereotypes
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: for profanity, sexual references, and its religious viewpoint
- This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman, illustrated by Kristyna Litten
Reason: for including LGBTQIA+ content
- Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
Reason: for including LGBTQIA+ content
Tweets from Top 11 Authors
Let me get back to work on this third book that will DEFINITELY get banned pic.twitter.com/eMlO5k8Wne
— Angie Thomas (@angiecthomas) April 10, 2019
Cool (aka Not Cool) https://t.co/YYT1EDZDXB
— Raina Telgemeier (@goraina) April 9, 2019
This makes me happy for Mr. Marlon Bundo but also sad for humanity. https://t.co/YIrYmnt7HU
— Jill Twiss (@jilltwiss) April 8, 2019
First they came for the books. Then they came for us. https://t.co/91TEarrvAT
— Gayle Pitman (@GaylePitman) April 8, 2019
Hey @LastWeekTonight, congratulations on coming in second on this dubious honor. #LeaderOfTheBanned https://t.co/9WOC9vZwqQ
— Alex Gino (@lxgino) April 9, 2019
THIS ONE SUMMER is back on this list for 2018. https://t.co/aUiAJfZESE
— Jillian Tamaki (@dirtbagg) April 10, 2019
Back on this list. Not sure how we got off one year then back on the next. Either way, it’s sad how many LGBTQ books are challenged. Queer stories belong in libraries. These stories belong in libraries. https://t.co/vPzFQR8Fkr
— mariko tamaki (@marikotamaki) April 10, 2019
Free Downloads & Other Resources
- Find social media cover photos, images to share, infographics, coloring sheets, and a complete PowerPoint slide deck of the Top 11 on the Free Downloads webpage.
- Share content from OIF’s social media pages; Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. Join the conversation by using and following hashtags #NationalLibraryWeek and #Top11.
- If you don’t have a lot of time, just click this link and a pre-populated tweet will appear in your Twitter account. https://ctt.ac/buNFs
Extra! Extra! – Top 11 Makes the News
- APNews: John Oliver’s parody book among most ‘challenged’ works
- New York Times: Books by John Oliver and Angie Thomas on This Year’s List of ‘Most Challenged’ Titles. “It’s an imperfect measure, because the ALA. says most book challenges are not reported, but the objections noted for each book reflect some of the cultural issues dividing the United States: Six out of the 11 books were challenged for containing LGBTQ characters. Another was challenged for “depicting stereotypes of Mexican culture,” according to the ALA website.”
- Fast Company: John Oliver and Captain Underpants among the most “challenged” books of 2018. “The ALA usually lists 10 books, but included 11 this year because there was just so much to clutch pearls over.”
- NBC News: More than half of banned books challenged for LGBTQ content. “The American Library Association noted there’s a ‘greater number of challenges’ to LGBTQ books — ‘especially those with transgender characters.’
- The Advocate: America’s Most Banned Book, George, Is about a Trans Girl.
- Washington Post: John Oliver’s gay Marlon Bundo story was the second-most complained-about book last year. “Meanwhile, the Pences have a second Marlon Bundo book out this week. “Marlon Bundo’s Day in the Nation’s Capital,” from conservative publisher Regnery, debuts Tuesday.”
- BookRiot: ALA Announces 2018’s Top 11 Banned Books
AASL School Library Month FREE Webinar
To celebrate School Library Month, AASL has gathered banned author Nick Bruel and school librarians to tell their stories of challenges to graphic novels and comics.
Don’t #%?$ My Graphic Novels: Conquering Challenges and Protecting the Right to Read
Wednesday, April 24, 2019 | 6:00 p.m. Central
We strive to create inclusive library collections that reflect a diverse global community. But what happens when members of the school community challenge or attempt to ban such inclusive materials?
In 2018, 38% of reported book challenges took place in schools. Among the challenged works were those in illustrated format, including Persepolis, Drama, This One Summer, Captain Underpants, Bad Kitty, and Bone. As we celebrate School Library Month, join us in advocating for and defending books that incorporate art with Bad Kitty author and illustrator Nick Bruel and librarians Mariela Siegert, Martha Hickson, and Suzanna Panter. They will share their experiences with censorship and navigating a graphic novel challenge. Moderated by Kristin Pekoll, assistant director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, with resources and tools to support inclusion of all types of learning resources.
Why are There 11 Most Challenged Books This Year?
Traditionally ALA releases a top 10 list of banned and challenged books within The State of America’s Libraries report. This year 11 books were selected, since two titles were tied for the final position on the list, and both books were burned by a religious activist to protest a Pride event.
Shining a light on censorship in America’s libraries makes our communities strong and ultimately makes our country stronger. Help us defend the right to read these stories and so many others.
Kristin Pekoll is the Assistant Director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom and is the first contact for support to librarians and educators who are experience censorship. Kristin communicates with state library associations on current book challenges and publications that deal with censorship, privacy, ethics, and internet filtering. She organizes online education and training on the freedom to read and how to navigate reconsideration requests and media relations. Kristin started her career as a youth librarian in West Bend, Wisconsin where she experienced a book challenge to over eighty YA LGBTQ books. This summer she will be publishing her first book with ALA Editions titled Beyond Banned Books: Defending Intellectual Freedom throughout Your Library. In her free time she enjoys watching the Green Bay Packers and working on jigsaw puzzles. Find her on Twitter @kpekoll.