Frequently Challenged Books
The ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) receives reports from libraries, schools, and the media on attempts to ban books in communities across the country. We compile lists of challenged books in order to inform the public about censorship efforts that affect libraries and schools. The top ten most challenged books of 2015 include:
Explore the following pages for listings of banned/challenged books:
- 30 Years of Liberating Literature timeline
- Banned/Challenged Classics
- Top Ten Frequently Challenged Books lists
- 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books by Decade
- Most Frequently Challenged Authors pages of the 21st Century
- Extended list of books banned or challenged
The ALA condemns censorship and works to ensure free access to information. For more information on ALA's efforts to raise awareness of censorship and promote the freedom to read, please explore Banned Books Week.
We do not claim comprehensiveness in recording challenges as research suggests that for each challenge reported there are as many as four or five that go unreported. In addition, OIF has only been collecting data about banned banned books since 1990, so we do not have any lists of frequently challenged books or authors before that date.
How is the list of most challenged books tabulated?
The Office for Intellectual Freedom collects information from two sources: newspapers and reports submitted by individuals, some of whom use the Challenge Reporting Form. All challenges are compiled into a database. Reports of challenges culled from newspapers across the country are compiled in the bimonthly Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom (published by the ALA, $50 per year for a digital subscription); those reports are then compiled in the Banned Books Week Resource Guide. Challenges reported to the ALA by individuals are kept confidential.
Where can you find more information on why a particular book was banned?
- Visit your local public library and ask your librarian.
- Find or purchase the latest Banned Books Week Resource Guide, updated every three years, which may be available at or through your local public library.
- See Banned and Challenged Classics.
- Check out the Banned Books Week > Ideas & Resources > Free Downloads page where you can find the yearly Books Challenged or Banned Lists that contain more information on why a book was challenged.
The Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged books list is compiled with expert analysis by the Office for Intellectual Freedom staff. “Challenges” are documented requests to remove materials from schools or libraries. Removal would restrict access to this information by other library users. This list is not scientifically compiled. Rather, it is a snapshot of the reports we receive every day. In some cases we get numerous details about the challenger, the nature of the complaint, the backstory, and the current status of the book. And in some cases we get very little. Sometimes we receive information during the challenge event, sometimes many years later. These factors affect the total number of challenged books for any given year and how we inform the public.
Our goal is not to focus on the numbers, but to educate the community that censorship is still a very serious problem. Even with all of our efforts to follow up and provide support, surveys indicate that up to 85% of book challenges receive no media attention and remain unreported. If the information you need is not listed in the links to the left, please feel free to contact the Office for Intellectual Freedom at (800) 545-2433, ext. 4220, or firstname.lastname@example.org.