Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.

Banned Books Week, created by the American Library Association in 1982, recognizing the freedom to read. Libraries, publishers, booksellers and readers join together to highlight the dangers of censorship. This year, Banned Books Week is September 26 – October 2, with the theme: Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.

It’s important to have an awareness of what books are being challenged and to understand why. We may not always agree with the words of the author or the content of the story, but blocking their work limits the freedom of others to seek and express ideas. Books reach across boundaries and build connections between readers. Censorship, on the other hand, creates barriers.

For this week of appreciation of our freedom to read what we choose, the library offers a list of the most challenged and banned books of the year and the reasons they’re being challenged.

Picture Books

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Snedak
Published in 1963, this book was banned for “depicting child abuse,” when the character Max is punished by being sent to bed without dinner, and for “containing supernatural elements.”

Prince & Knight words by Daniel Haack
This 2018 book has been challenged for featuring LGBTQIA+ characters.

The Dirty Cowboy by Amy Timberlake
This book from 2003 was banned not for its story but because its illustrations “may promote nudity.”

Middle Grade Books

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Since its first publication in 1998, this book had been challenged over 650 different times due to “witchcraft, wizardry and promoting anti-family themes.”

Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey
This popular series was one of the most banned in the country for “encouraging disobedience” and for a reference to one of its characters being gay.

Drama by Raina Telgemeier
This graphic novel was one of the top 10 challenged books from 2016-2019 due to LGBTQIA+ content and concerns that the story “goes against family values.”

Young Adult Books

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
This title was challenged for containing “offensive language” and was included in the Top Ten List of Most Challenged Books of 2016

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Since its first publication in 1999, this novel has frequently appeared on banned and challenged lists for including “profanity” and depicting rape.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Despite receiving critical acclaim and a major motion picture adaptation, this title is frequently on lists of challenged and banned books based on its inclusion of “profanity, drug use, violence and an anti-police message.”

Adult Books

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
This title is frequently banned and challenged for “being sexually explicit” and for “featuring child abuse.”

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
This best-seller has been banned and challenged for “profanity, vulgarity and sexual overtones.”

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Though critically acclaimed, this book has been challenged and banned for featuring “sexual violence, promoting Islamism and fears reading this book could inspire terrorism.”

More than 273 titles were challenged or banned in 2020, with increasing demands to remove books that address racism and racial justice or those that share the stories of Black, Indigenous, or people of color. As with previous years, LGBTQ+ content also dominated the list. For more info, visit the Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2020 from the American Library Association.

No matter what you want to read, the Christian County Library is here to help you find it, so visit your nearest Community Branch for all your reading requests!