The American Library Association recently released its annual State of America’s Libraries Report, detailing the top 10 most challenged books in 2021. Below are the books and the reasons for their bans:
1. Gender Queer: Maia Kobabe
Maia Kobabe writes a memoir about eir journey of self-discovery and life experiences. This story is told in a graphic and detailed manner. It was banned for the graphic sexual content found in the book, with the inclusion of personal sexual experiences.
2. Lawn Boy: Jonathan Evison
Written as a semi-autobiography, Jonathan Evision details the life experiences of Mike Munoz, a young Mexican American who goes through a journey of self-discovery, dealing gender-identity that are coupled with the existing challenge of adolescence and self-identity. The novel also touches on racial prejudices that a brown person experiences in America. This novel was banned by many schools and challenged by parents due to the amount of obscenities and sexual content found.
3. All Boys Aren’t Blue: George M Johnson
Written by journalist Geore M Johnson, All Boys Aren’t Blue is a personal memoir about the challenges that a black queer boy experiences in the society of America. George M Johnson’s story related to many young queer adults who are going through a similar experience. It was banned due to its LGBTQI+ content and explicit content and language.
4. Out of Darkness: Ashley Hope Perez
This novel is one of historical nature in which the author focuses on the romantic relationship between a teenage Mexican American girl and a teenage African American boy in the early 1900s. Challenges from parents and bans from school came because of the sexual content and physical abuse illustrated in the book.
5. The Hate U Give: Angie Thomson
Angie Thomson tells the story a 16-year-old African American girl who witnesses a police officer kill her childhood friend. It’s major themes are police brutality and the racial prejudices in America. It was banned as educational bodies believed that it promoted a certain social and slightly political agenda.
6. The Absolutely True Diary of A Part-Time Indian: Sherman Alexie
A 1st person perspective of Native American teenager, detailing his childhood. The author touches on bullying, racism and violence. It has been consistently challenged over the last decade due to the presence of homophobic slurs and the amount of violence present in the book.
7. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl: Jesse Andrews
A book that received a film adaptation, this novel focuses on the relationship between three high school seniors and the tribulations that they face. The novel faced much criticism due to its misogynistic nature and sexual content.
8. The Bluest Eye: Toni Morrison
A fictional tale of an 11-year-old African American girl, the bluest eye gives an eye-opening perspective of life from a girl who experiences abuse in its different forms. Parents and educational bodies have found the book to be inappropriate due to its sexual content.
9. This Book is Gay: Juno Dawson
As an informative guide, this book aims to educate young people about the LGBTQ community as well as sexual identity. It was banned and challenged for those particular reasons.
10. Beyond Magenta: Susan Kuklin
Susan Kuklin interviews six people that identify as transgender and gender-neutral. These interviews give insight on the experiences of people of the LGBTQI+ community. Parents called for the book to be banned due to the LGBTQI+ content and nature.
ALA will continue to advocate for free speech by launching an “Unite Against Book Bans” campaign.