Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2017: Resources & Graphics

OIF logo design by American LibrariesCensorship is a growing threat that infringes on our foundational rights. The year 2017 saw an increase in censorship attempts and a revitalized effort to remove books from communal shelves to avoid controversy.

Every year, the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) publishes statistics about censorship attempts in U.S. schools and libraries, compiled from public challenges in the news and confidential reports submitted to the office. Usually these threats target literature but they sometimes venture beyond books, affecting DVDs, databases, displays, and art exhibits.

Below are resources and statistics about censorship incidents in 2017, with a focus on the Top 10 Challenged Books of 2017. This report is a snapshot of censorship, as OIF estimates that 82-97% of challenges remain unreported.

Censorship succeeds when no one talks about it; let’s make some noise.

 

Top 10 Video  | Top 10 Challenged Books of 2017  | Infographics | Trends & Facts | Social Media Shareables
Big Censorship Stories of 2017 | Banned Books Week Theme | State of America’s Libraries Report  | Media Contacts

 

Top 10 Video

 

 

Top 10 Challenged Books of 2017

The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 354 challenges to library, school and university materials in 2017. Of the 416 books challenged or banned in 2017, the Top 10 Most Challenged Books are

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.”

  1. 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.”

  1. 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.

  1. 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.”

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

 

Infographics

These infographics are free for anyone to download and share. Suggested photo credit: Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association, ala.org/bbooks/NLW-Top10

Top Ten Challenged Books 2017 

Infographic ALA Censorship by the 

Numbers 2017 ALA 2017 Pyramid Where do Challenges come from?
Click image to enlarge to full size 1967 x 2417 (PDF) Click image to enlarge to full size 1044 x 2200 (PDF) Click image to enlarge to full size 1024 x 768 (PDF)

 

Trends & Facts

  • 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.

 

Social Media Shareables

Join the conversation by using #NationalLibraryWeek and #Top10. Follow the Office for Intellectual Freedom on Twitter and Facebook to stay updated on censorship and privacy trends in libraries.

These cover photos are free for anyone to download and use on social media.

Top Ten Most Challenged Books 2017

Click image to enlarge to full Facebook cover art size 1200 x 630

 

Top Ten Most Challenged Books 2017

Click image to enlarge to full Twitter cover art size 1500 x 500

 

These digital graphics are free for anyone to download and use.

Top 

Ten Challenged Books 2017 Infographic Who initiates challenges to materials ALA Censorship by the Numbers 2017 Where do challenges happen ALA 

2017 Top Ten Most Challenged Books Why do people challenge books? ALA 2017 Top Ten Challenged Books Beyond
Click image to enlarge
to full size 1080 x 1080
Click image to enlarge
to full size 1080 x 1080
Click image to enlarge
to full size 1080 x 1080
Click image to enlarge
to full size 1080 x 1080

 

Top Ten Most Challenged Books 2017 leaderboard

Click image to enlarge to leaderboard size 725 x 89

 

Top Ten Most Challenged Books 2017 boombox

Click image to enlarge to boombox size 300 x 250

 

Top Ten Most Challenged Books 2017

Click image to enlarge to size 1024 x 512

 

Big Censorship Stories of 2017

  • West 

Chicago community members attend a board meeting to discuss the challenge to This Day in JuneWhen The Hate U Give was removed from all school libraries in the Katy Independent School District (Texas), a 15-year-old student gathered 3,700 signatures on an online petition; spoke out at a school board meeting; and started a book club about the YA novel. Author Angie Thomas called her “the real Starr Carter.” The book was returned to high school libraries and can only be checked-out with parental consent. Learn more on the Intellectual Freedom Blog.

  • When a proposed bill in Arkansas would have banned books written by Howard Zinn, the Zinn Education Project sent 700 free copies of A People’s History of the United States to librarians and teachers across the state. Learn more on the Intellectual Freedom Blog.

  • After a mother told a superintendent that her son was uncomfortable with the N-word in To Kill a Mockingbird, the novel was removed from the eighth-grade curriculum at Biloxi Public Schools (Mississippi) in the middle of teaching it, without following policy. After national outcry, the book is available to be taught as an optional assignment with parental permission. Learn more on the Intellectual Freedom Blog.

  • More than 150 people attended the West Chicago Public Library (Illinois) board meeting to debate the inclusion of This Day in June by Gayle Pitman in the youth collection. With support from the conservative Illinois Family Institute, a formal request for reconsideration was submitted to remove or relocate the book to the adult section so children won’t be exposed to LGBT imagery. The board voted 6-1 to retain the picture book in the youth collection. Learn more on the Intellectual Freedom Blog. 

 

Banning Books Silences Stories. Speak Out!

Banned Books Week Theme

September 23-29, 2018 is Banned Books Week. The 2018 theme is "Banning Books Silences Stories. Speak Out!" Censorship succeeds when no one talks about. Encourage readers to raise their megaphones and speak out for banned books!


Find the new Banned Books Week product line on the ALA Store. This year’s theme was designed by Tom Deja of Bossman Graphics. Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to read and access information. Help ALA draw national attention to the harms of censorship. Awareness is essential to protecting our rights. Support Banned Books Week with a $25, $50, $100, or $250 donation.

 

State of America’s Libraries Report

The State of America’s Libraries report is packed with issues, trends, resources and studies about U.S. libraries. Learn more about key trends emerging in the intellectual freedom realm — such as hate crimes in libraries and challenged beyond books — in OIF Director James LaRue’s report.

 

Media Contacts

Media interested in scheduling interviews with ALA spokespersons may contact Macey Morales, deputy director of ALA's Public Awareness Office, 312-280-4393, mmorales@ala.org; Steve Zalusky, manager of communications, 312-280- 1546, szalusky@ala.org; or Heather Cho, media relations specialist, hcho@ala.org or 312-280-4020.