Today, the American Library Association (ALA) kicked off National Library Week with the release of its highly anticipated list of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2022 and the State of America’s Libraries Report, which tells the story of how libraries are innovating and adapting to improve the well-being of their communities in the midst of censorship challenges. This year, however, there were multiple books that received the same number of challenges – resulting in the expansion of the list to 13 titles.
Libraries in every state faced another year of unprecedented attempts to ban books. In 2022, ALA tracked the highest number of censorship reports since the association began compiling data about library censorship more than 20 years ago. ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 2,571 unique titles targeted for censorship, a 38% increase from the 1,858 unique titles targeted in 2021. Most of the targeted books were written by or about members of the LGBTQIA+ community and people of color.
“By releasing the list of Top 10 Most Challenged Books each year, ALA recognizes all of the brave authors whose work challenges readers with stories that disrupt the status quo and offer fresh perspectives on tough issues,” said ALA President Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada. “The list also illustrates how frequently stories by or about LGBTQ+ persons, people of color, and lived experiences are being targeted by censors. Closing our eyes to the reality portrayed in these stories will not make life’s challenges disappear. Books give us courage and help us understand each other.
It’s time to take action on behalf of authors, library staff, and the communities they serve. ALA calls on readers everywhere to show your commitment to the freedom to read by doing something to protect it.”
Below are the most Top 13 Most Challenged Books of 2022:
Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, claimed to be sexually explicit
All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, claimed to be sexually explicit
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison Reasons: depiction of sexual abuse, claimed to be sexually explicit, EDI content
Flamer by Mike Curato Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, claimed to be sexually explicit
(TIE) Looking for Alaska by John Green Reasons: Claimed to be sexually explicit, LGBTQIA+ content
(TIE) The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky Reasons: Claimed to be sexually explicit, LGBTQIA+ content, depiction of sexual abuse, drugs, profanity
Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, claimed to be sexually explicit
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie Reasons: Claimed to be sexually explicit, profanity
Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez Reasons: Claimed to be sexually explicit
(TIE) A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas Reasons: Claimed to be sexually explicit
(TIE) Crank by Ellen Hopkins Reasons: Claimed to be sexually explicit, drugs
(TIE) Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews Reasons: Claimed to be sexually explicit, profanity
(TIE) This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, sex education, claimed to be sexually explicit
In response to the uptick in book challenges and other efforts to suppress access to information, ALA has designated every Monday of National Library Week moving forward as Right to Read Day, a day of action that encourages communities to fight back against censorship and to protect and celebrate the right to read freely. This year’s National Library Week also marks the one-year anniversary of the launch of Unite Against Book Bans, a nationwide initiative that empowers readers everywhere to stand together in the fight against censorship. More information is available at uniteagainstbookbans.org.
About the American Library Association The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visitwww.ala.org.
The Banned Books Week Coalition is proud to announce that George M. Johnson has been named Honorary Chair for Banned Books Week 2022. The critically acclaimed—and frequently banned—author will lead the weeklong event, which brings awareness to the harms of censorship September 18–24, 2022.
George M. Johnson (they/them) is an award-winning Black nonbinary activist and author of TheNew York Times–bestselling young adult memoir All Boys Aren’t Blue (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020) and We Are Not Broken (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2021). All Boys Aren’t Blue was named a best book of the year by the New York Public Library and the Chicago Public Library, and it has been optioned for television by Gabrielle Union’s I’ll Have Another Productions. Johnson has written for several major outlets, including Teen Vogue, VICE, Entertainment Tonight, NBC, The Root, Buzzfeed, Essence, and TheGrio.
All Boys Aren’t Blue was the third title on the American Library Association’s Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2021, an annual list released during National Library Week. Like most of the books on the list, All Boys Aren’t Blue was challenged for LGBTQ+ content, which is disproportionately targeted for censorship alongside works dealing with racism and racial identity. Several state legislatures have passed or are considering laws that would limit instruction related to LGBTQ+ identity and race. Johnson and many other authors addressing these issues are impacted, and students are harmed by the resulting censorship.
“Being the honorary chair for Banned Books Week is important to me because I know what it is like to grow up and not have stories about my own lived experience, nor the truth outside of an ahistorical context,” says Johnson. “This is a fight for the truth that has always existed even if it rarely gets told. When the youth are empowered with stories about the experiences of others, they become adults who understand the necessity for equity and equality and have the tools to build a world the likes of which we have never seen.”
Since it was founded in 1982, Banned Books Week has drawn attention to the attempts to remove books and other materials from libraries, schools, and bookstores. Banned Books Week 2022 has the theme “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.” All readers deserve to see themselves reflected in the books available to them, and people better understand themselves and each other when given the opportunity to choose what they want to read without restriction. This is particularly true for young people, who are most impacted by censorship. The theme image of caged birds reminds us that censorship isolates us from information and from each other.
Join Honorary Chair George M. Johnson and the Banned Books Week Coalition in recognizing the ways in which books unite us during Banned Books Week, September 18–24, 2022!
George M. Johnson is a writer and activist based in New York. They have written on race, gender, sex, and culture for Essence, the Advocate, BuzzFeed News, Teen Vogue, and more than 40 other national publications. George has appeared on BuzzFeed’s AM2DM as well as on MSNBC. All Boys Aren’t Blue is their debut and was an Amazon Best Book of the Year, an Indie Bestseller, a People Magazine Best Book of the Year, and optioned for television by Gabrielle Union. The New York Times called it “an exuberant, unapologetic memoir infused with a deep but cleareyed love for its subjects.”
The Banned Books Week Coalition is an international alliance of diverse organizations joined by a commitment to increase awareness of the annual celebration of the freedom to read. The Coalition seeks to engage various communities and inspire participation in Banned Books Week through education, advocacy, and the creation of programming about the problem of book censorship.
Banned Books Week is an annual event that highlights the value of free and open access to information. The event is supported by a coalition of organizations dedicated to free expression, including American Booksellers for Free Expression, American Library Association, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Amnesty International USA, Association of University Presses, Authors Guild, Banned Books Week Sweden, Children’s Book Council, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), Freedom to Read Foundation, GLAAD, Index on Censorship, Little Free Library, National Book Foundation, National Coalition Against Censorship, National Council of Teachers of English, PEN America, People For the American Way Foundation, PFLAG, and Project Censored. It is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. Banned Books Week also receives generous support from HarperCollins Publishers and Penguin Random House.