Banned Books Week Coalition is a national 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. The 2018 celebration will be held September 23 - September 29!
Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. The Top Ten Challenged Books of 2017 are:
Thirteen Reasons Why written by Jay Asher
Originally published in 2007, this New York Times bestseller has resurfaced as a controversial book after Netflix aired a TV series by the same name. This YA novel was challenged and banned in multiple school districts because it discusses suicide.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian written by Sherman Alexie
Consistently challenged since its publication in 2007 for acknowledging issues such as poverty, alcoholism, and sexuality, this National Book Award winner was challenged in school curriculums because of profanity and situations that were deemed sexually explicit.
Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
This Stonewall Honor Award-winning, 2012 graphic novel from an acclaimed cartoonist was challenged and banned in school libraries because it includes LGBT characters and was considered “confusing.”
The Kite Runner written by Khaled Hosseini
This critically acclaimed, multigenerational novel was challenged and banned because it includes sexual violence and was thought to “lead to terrorism” and “promote Islam.”
George written by Alex Gino
Written for elementary-age children, this Lambda Literary Award winner was challenged and banned because it includes a transgender child.
Sex is a Funny Word written by Cory Silverberg and illustrated by Fiona Smyth
This 2015 informational children’s book written by a certified sex educator was challenged because it addresses sex education and is believed to lead children to “want to have sex or ask questions about sex.”
To Kill a Mockingbird written by Harper Lee
This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, considered an American classic, was challenged and banned because of violence and its use of the N-word.
The Hate U Give written by Angie Thomas
Despite winning multiple awards and being the most searched-for book on Goodreads during its debut year, this YA novel was challenged and banned in school libraries and curriculums because it was considered “pervasively vulgar” and because of drug use, profanity, and offensive language.
And Tango Makes Three written by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson and illustrated by Henry Cole
Returning after a brief hiatus from the Top Ten Most Challenged list, this ALA Notable Children’s Book, published in 2005, was challenged and labeled because it features a same-sex relationship.
I Am Jazz written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
This autobiographical picture book co-written by the 13-year-old protagonist was challenged because it addresses gender identity.
More information on banned and challenged books is available on the American Library Association website.
Are you looking for a way to celebrate your freedom to read during Banned Books Week? Consider participating in the Banned Books Virtual Read-out!
Since the inception of Banned Books Week in 1982, libraries and bookstores throughout the country have staged local read-outs—a continuous reading of banned/challenged books—as part of their activities. Now in it's sixth year (2016), readers from around the world can participate in the Banned Books Virtual Read-Out by creating videos proclaiming the virtues of the freedom to read that will be featured on a dedicated YouTube channel.
If you are a librarian, check out the page, "Stand for the Banned" created by the American Library Association.