The growing number of school districts voting to remove certain books from school libraries has been making headlines for months, as works by authors ranging from Toni Morrison to Art Spiegelman are challenged and banned across the country.
According to the American Library Association, these titles are not just hyperbole. In 2021, they tracked a total of “729 challenges for materials and services for libraries, schools and universities in 2021”, targeting a total of 1,597 books.
The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, established in 1967, implements ALA policies related to intellectual freedom – in other words, freedom of expression and free access to libraries and works and ideas they contain.
The OIF tracks challenges to that freedom each year, based on information found in the media and voluntary censorship reports that people send to the organization, from “communities across the United States,” explain- they on their website.
The reports and reports don’t capture all of the challenges or book bans happening in the United States, they say.
Challenges are defined as “documented requests to remove materials from schools or libraries,” according to the ALA, and “surveys indicate that 82-97% of book-related challenges…go unreported and do not receive no media”.
Using reported incidents, each year the OIF then creates a list of the 10 most frequently disputed books in the United States.
Here’s the list for 2021, along with the reasons given for the challenges. Half of this year’s most frequently challenged books were challenged for featuring LGBTQ+ content.
1. Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
“Gender Queer: A Memoir” is an autobiography written by non-binary and aesexual Maia Kobabe, who uses the pronouns e/em/eir. It was released in 2019.
The book began as a comic strip, written to explain to family members what their gender identity and sexuality entailed, according to distributor Simon and Schuster. It quickly became an account of their “journey of self-identity”, as well as a guide to what gender identity means and how to think about it.
“Gender Queer” won the 2020 ALA Alex Award and was a 2020 Stonewall – Israel Fishman Non-fiction Award Book of Honor.
In 2021, the book was the no. 1 most frequently challenged book, “banned, challenged, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, and because it was deemed to contain sexually explicit imagery,” the ALA said.
2. Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison
“Lawn Boy: A Novel” by Jonathan Evison is a fictional novel about Mike Muñoz, a Mexican-American in his twenties who loses his job as a lawn boy on a landscaping crew in the state of Washington, forcing him to reevaluate his life.
The book, published in 2018 by Algonquin Books, won the 2019 Alex Prize.
In 2021, it was frequently “banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered sexually explicit,” according to the ALA.
3. Not All Boys Are Blue by George M. Johnson
“All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M. Johnson is a series of personal essays by the journalist, writer and non-binary activist.
The book, published in 2020, explores Johnson’s experience as a gay black man in New Jersey and Virginia, addressing “gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, structural marginalization, consent and black joy,” according to the publisher. Macmillan.
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It has won numerous awards, including Best Book of the Year lists from Amazon and recommendations from Teen Vogue, Buzzfeed, and People Magazine. It was also a New York Times bestseller.
In 2021, it was frequently “banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content, profanity, and because it was considered sexually explicit,” according to the ALA.
4. Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez
“Out of Darkness” by Ashley Hope Pérez is a fictional novel that follows the Romeo and Juliet romance between Naomi Vargas, who is Mexican, and Wash Fuller, who is black, in segregated 1930s Texas.
The book, published in 2015, was a Printz Book of Honor, a selection of the 50 Best YA Books of All Time, a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year, and the winner of the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award, according to the holiday editor. Accommodation.
In 2021, it was frequently “banned, challenged, and restricted for depictions of abuse and because it was considered sexually explicit,” according to the ALA.
5. The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas
“The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas is a fictional novel that follows 16-year-old Starr Carter, a poor student at a wealthy prep school, after her childhood best friend Khalil is shot dead by police while ‘she looked.
The book, published in 2017, has received an impressive number of awards and accolades listed on the publisher’s HarperCollins website. Among them are a William C. Morris Award, a Coretta Scott King Honor, an Edgar Allan Poe Award nomination, and the no. 1 place on the New York Times bestseller list.
It was also made into a movie by 20th Century Fox in 2018, starring Amandla Stenberg, Anthony Mackie, KJ Apa and Sabrina Carpenter.
In 2021, it was frequently “banned and challenged for profanity, violence, and for purporting to promote an anti-police message and the indoctrination of a social agenda,” according to the ALA.
6. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
“The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie is a fictional novel that follows Native American teenager Arnold Spirit Jr., known as “Junior”, throughout his life on the Indian reservation of Spokane, and as he decides to attend a majority white public high school off the reservation.
The book, published in 2007 by Little, Brown and Company, was challenged and banned for more than a decade. It topped the ALA’s “100 Most Banned and Disputed Books” list for 2010-2019.
It is also the winner of the National Book Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award and is a New York Times bestseller, with over one million copies sold.
As of 2021, it was frequently “banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references and use of a pejorative term”.
7. Me and Earl and Jesse Andrews’ Dying Daughter
“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” by Jesse Andrews is a fictional novel that follows high school Greg Gaines as he attempts to slip under the radar with his friend Earl – a mission that fails when he bonds with friendship with Rachel Kushner, who is dying. of cancer.
The book, published in 2012, is a New York Times bestseller, according to publisher Abrams Books. It was also made into a movie in 2015, starring Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke, RJ Cyler and Jon Bernthal.
In 2021, the book was frequently “banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and demeaning to women”, according to the ALA.
8. Toni Morrison’s bluest eye
Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye” follows 11-year-old Pecola Breedlove, a black girl growing up in Ohio in 1941. The title comes from Pecola’s wish to have blue eyes, to escape the phrase “ugly.” for her dark skin; the novel itself focuses on the racism and tragedy that fuel Pecola’s desire to appear different.
The book, first published in 1970 by Holt, Reinhardt and Winston, is considered a classic. It won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993 and is a national bestseller.
The book was contested and banned for several decades, and was the 10th most banned book on the ALA’s “100 Most Banned and Contested Books” list for 2010-2019. He was 15th on the list for 2000-2009 and 34th on the list for 1990-1999.
As of 2021, the book has been frequently “banned and challenged because it depicts child sexual abuse and was considered sexually explicit,” according to the ALA.
9. This Book Is Gay by Juno Dawson
“This Book is Gay” by Juno Dawson is a non-fiction book on sexuality and gender, “for anyone who has ever dared to ask questions” about the topics, regardless of their own sexuality and background. genre, according to the book’s publisher Sourcebooks.
The book, published in 2014, was voted best book of the year by the Guardian in 2018.
In 2021, the book has been frequently “banned, challenged, moved, and restricted for providing sex education and LGBTQIA+ content,” according to ALA.
10. Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin
“Beyond Magenta” by Susan Kuklin is a non-fiction book featuring interviews with six transgender or neutral teenagers, describing their lives before, during and after their transitions.
The book, published in 2014, received star-studded reviews from Booklist and Kirkus Reviews.
In 2021, the book was frequently “banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered sexually explicit,” according to the ALA.