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Banned Books: 2020’s Most Challenged Books

The American Library Association (ALA) “condemns censorship and works to ensure free access to information”, however, as many people will know from various sources of news, that doesn’t stop schools and libraries across the United States from trying to ban and censor certain books.

Every year, their Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) compiles a list of the ten most challenged books in order to continuously inform the public about this censorship. This list is based on information from media stories as well as voluntary reports that have been sent to OIF by communities across the U.S. This list is only a snapshot of the censorship happening in the country though since a survey suggests that around 82-97% of book challenges (documented requests to remove material from libraries or schools) remain unreported and receive no media attention.

In 2020, the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 156 challenges to materials in libraries, schools, universities, and other services. Of the 273 books that were targeted, here are the most challenged, along with the reasons cited for censoring the books:

Alex Gino – George

Reasons: Challenged, banned, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, conflicting with a religious viewpoint, and not reflecting “the values of our community”

 

George

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Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds – Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You

Reasons: Banned and challenged because of author’s public statements, and because of claims that the book contains “selective storytelling incidents” and does not encompass racism against all people.

 

Stamped

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Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely – All American Boys

Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, drug use, and alcoholism, and because it was thought to promote anti-police views, contain divisive topics, and be “too much of a sensitive matter right now”

 

All American Boys

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Laurie Halse Anderson – Speak

Reasons: Banned, challenged, and restricted because it was thought to contain a political viewpoint and it was claimed to be biased against male students, and for the novel’s inclusion of rape and profanity.

 

Speak

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Sherman Alexie – The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references, and allegations of sexual misconduct by the author

 

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

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Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard – Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice (illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin)

Reasons: Challenged for “divisive language” and because it was thought to promote anti-police views

Something Happened in Our Town

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Harper Lee – To Kill a Mockingbird

Reasons: Banned and challenged for racial slurs and their negative effect on students, featuring a “white savior” character, and its perception of the Black experience

 

To Kill a Mockingbird

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John Steinbeck – Of Mice and Men

Reasons: Banned and challenged for racial slurs and racist stereotypes, and their negative effect on students

Of Mice and Men

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Toni Morrison – The Bluest Eye

Reasons: Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and depicts child sexual abuse

 

The Bluest Eye

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Angie Thomas – The Hate U Give

Reasons: Challenged for profanity, and it was thought to promote an anti-police message

The Hate U Give

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