To kick off the 2020 edition of Banned Books week, the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom has unveiled the Top 100 Most Banned and Challenged Books for the past decade. The list features many of the most popular and acclaimed titles and writers in publishing, from Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants to Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye.
For anyone who has seen OIF’s top 10 challenged books lists over the last few years, many of the titles at the top of the list will be familiar. ALA’s new list is topped by the following 20 titles:
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
- Captain Underpants (series) by Dav Pilkey
- Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
- Looking for Alaska by John Green
- George by Alex Gino
- And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
- Drama by Raina Telgemeier
- Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James
- Internet Girls (series) by Lauren Myracle
- The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
- The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
- Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
- I Am Jazz by Jazz Jennings and Jessica Herthel
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Bone (series) by Jeff Smith
- The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
- Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
- A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss
- Sex is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg
Many of the books on OIF’s top 100 list were targeted for LGBTQIA+ content. Alex Gino’s George, award-winning middle grade novel centered on a transgender girl, has appeared on the OIF top 10 list for four years running, topping the 2019 and 2018 lists. Gino will be joining the Banned Books Week Coalition and OIF for a special Facebook Live event on Wednesday, September 30 to talk about censorship and representation in literature. Get the details here.
Today, the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) released the Top 100 Most Banned and Challenged Books from the past decade. The list’s release launches Banned Books Week, Sept. 27 – Oct. 3, a vibrant week of programming to rally readers to the cause of First Amendment protections and remind them to remain vigilant about continual threats to our freedom to read.
Sherman Alexie’s “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” tops the list as the most banned and challenged book from 2010-2019. Alexie joins Toni Morrison, Alex Gino, John Green, and E. L. James as some of the most censored authors. Many of the titles on the list have also been adapted for the screen, including “Captain Underpants,” “The Hunger Games,” “Gossip Girl,” “The Hate U Give,” “The Glass Castle” and “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.”
The list includes books challenged for a variety of reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, sexual references, religious viewpoints, content that addresses racism and police brutality, and profanity. Although the reasons differ, the censorship of literature in libraries share a common result: the violation of our First Amendment rights.
OIF has been documenting attempts to ban books in libraries and schools since 1990. OIF compiled this list of the most banned and challenged books from 2010-2019 by reviewing both the public and confidential censorship reports it received.
This list draws attention to literary censorship but only provides a snapshot of book challenges. About 82-97% of challenges remain unreported, estimates OIF, which compared results from several independent studies of third-party FOIA requests documenting school and library book censorship with the information in its database.
This year’s Banned Books Week theme is Censorship is a Dead End. Find Your Freedom to Read. Banned Books Week is largely going virtual, as libraries, bookstores, universities, and organizations are hosting more online programs. The general public is also welcome to participate in a series of virtual activities.
Each day of Banned Books Week, OIF will promote a different action that draws attention to censorship. Titled #BannedBooksWeek in Action, readers are encouraged to share their activities on social media, with the focus on the following daily topics: Read a banned book (Sunday); Speak out about censorship (Monday); Create something unrestricted (Tuesday); Express the freedom to read in style (Wednesday); Write about your rights (Thursday); Watch, listen and learn from others (Friday); Thank those who defend the freedom to read every day of the year (Saturday).
Readers are encouraged to write, tweet, or email their favorite banned/challenged author during Banned Books Week for the Dear Banned Author letter writing campaign.
The Banned Books Week Facebook page will offer a series of events including:
Sept. 27, at 2 p.m. CT
Video premiere of City Lit Theater reading excerpts of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2019
Sept. 30, at 1 p.m. CT
Live Q&A about censorship and the importance of representation in literature with Alex Gino, award-winning author of the banned book “George”
Oct. 2, at 6 p.m. CT
Discussion during the watch party of “Scary Stories,” a documentary about the banned and challenged series “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” by Alvin Schwartz, followed by a live Q&A with director Cody Meirick on the Banned Books Week YouTube channel
To arrange for interviews with library leaders and experts from OIF, contact Macey Morales, deputy director, American Library Association (ALA) Communications and Marketing Office (CMO), at (312) 280-4393 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Steve Zalusky, communications specialist, ALA CMO, at (312) 280-1546 or email@example.com. Banned Books Week artwork is available at ala.org/bbooks/freedownloads.
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, ALA has been the trusted voice of libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit ala.org.