ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom Names Ten Most Challenged Books of 2017

Mon, 04/09/2018 - 10:50 -- Betsy Gomez

In recognition of National Library Week, the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) has published their annual list of the ten most frequently challenged and banned books, along with an analysis of the censorship threats facing U.S. schools and libraries.

In 2017, the following books were among the most frequently attacked:

  1. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher (Reason: Suicide)
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie (Reasons: Profanity, Sexually Explicit)
  3. Drama, written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier (Reason: LGBT Content)
  4. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini (Reasons: Sexual Violence, Religious Themes, “May Lead to Terrorism”)
  5. George, by Alex Gino (Reason: LGBT Content)
  6. Sex is a Funny Word, written by Cory Silverberg and illustrated by Fiona Smyth (Reason: Sex Education)
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (Reasons: Violence, Racial Slurs)
  8. The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas (Reasons: Drug Use, Profanity, “Pervasively Vulgar”)
  9. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, illustrated by Henry Cole (Reason: LGBT Content)
  10. I Am Jazz, written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas (Reason: Gender Identity)

ALA OIF also noted the following trends in challenges over the last year:

  • The ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 354 challenges to library, school and university materials and services (including books, DVDs, magazines, programs, databases, games, exhibits, displays) in 2017:
    • In those 354 challenges, 416 books were targeted.
    • In total, 491 library materials were challenged.
  • Books on the Top 10 list have a child, teen or young adult audience.
  • OIF is seeing an increase in “blanket bans”: removing collections of books that share commonalities. For example, removing all LGBT books, books by a certain author, or all R-rated DVDs.
  • OIF is noticing more censorship incidents where administrators remove books without following policy because they are trying to (unsuccessfully) avoid controversy.
  • Ten years after its publication, Thirteen Reasons Why resurged to the top of the list, largely because of the popularity (and criticism) of the Netflix series.

To find out more, visit http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/NLW-Top10 and read the State of America’s Libraries Report 2018 here.

Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association, ala.org/bbooks/NLW-Top10