Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books Lists

The ALA condemns censorship and works to ensure free access to information. Every year, the Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) compiles a list of the Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books in order to inform the public about censorship in libraries and schools. The lists are based on anecdotal data derived from media stories and voluntary challenge reports sent to OIF from communities across the United States.

Explore the annual Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books lists:

The Top Ten lists are only a snapshot of book challenges. Surveys indicate that up to 85% of book challenges – documented requests to remove materials from school or libraries – remain unreported and receive no media.

Sometimes OIF receives information as the challenge is happening; other times OIF receives an online report years later. This affects the total number of challenges reported in any given year. Thus the Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books list should not be viewed as an exhaustive report.

To obtain a more comprehensive analysis, contact the Office for Intellectual Freedom for challenge reporting and support.

 

Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books


Top Ten for 2015

Out of 275 challenges recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom

View the 2015 book challenge infographic

 

  1. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group
  2. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James
    Reasons: sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and other (“poorly written,” “concerns that a group of teenagers will want to try it”)
  3. I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
    Reasons: inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint, and unsuited for age group
  4. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin
    Reasons: anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“wants to remove from collection to ward off complaints”)
  5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
    Reasons: offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“profanity and atheism”)
  6. The Holy Bible
    Reasons: religious viewpoint
  7. Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
    Reasons: violence and other (“graphic images”)
  8. Habibi, by Craig Thompson
    Reasons: nudity, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group
  9. Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, by Jeanette Winter
    Reasons: religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, and violence
  10. Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan
    Reasons: homosexuality and other (“condones public displays of affection”)


Top Ten for 2014

Out of 311 challenges recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom

View the 2014 book challenge infographic

 

  1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying”
  2. Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi
    Reasons: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions”
  3. And Tango Makes Three, Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
    Reasons: anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “promotes the homosexual agenda”
  4. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “contains controversial issues”
  5. It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
    Reasons: nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. Additional reasons: “alleges it is child pornography”
  6. Saga, by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples
    Reasons: anti-Family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group
  7. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
    Reasons: offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence
  8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
    Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation”
  9. A Stolen Life, Jaycee Dugard
    Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
  10. Drama, by Raina Telgemeier
    Reason: sexually explicit


Top Ten for 2013

Out of 307 challenges recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom

  1. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
    Reasons: offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence
  2. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
  3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  4. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James
    Reasons: nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  5. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
    Reasons: religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group
  6. A Bad Boy Can Be Good for A Girl, by Tanya Lee Stone
    Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit
  7. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
    Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
    Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  9. Bless Me Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
    Reasons: occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
  10. Bone (series), by Jeff Smith
    Reason: political viewpoint, racism, violence


Top Ten for 2012

Out of 464 challenges recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom

 

  1. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
    Reasons: offensive language, unsuited for age group
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
  3. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher
    Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group
  4. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit
  5. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
    Reasons: homosexuality, unsuited for age group
  6. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
    Reasons: homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
  7. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
  8. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
    Reasons: unsuited for age group, violence
  9. The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit
  10. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence


Top Ten for 2011

Out of 326 challenges recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom

  1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle 
    Reasons: offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  2. The Color of Earth (series), by Kim Dong Hwa
    Reasons: nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  3. The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins
    Reasons: anti-ethnic, anti-family, insensitivity, offensive language, occult/satanic, violence
  4. My Mom's Having A Baby! A Kid's Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy, by Dori Hillestad Butler
    Reasons: nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: offensive language, racism, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  6. Alice (series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
    Reasons: nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint
  7. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
    Reasons: insensitivity, nudity, racism, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
  8. What My Mother Doesn't Know, by Sonya Sones
    Reasons: nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit
  9. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily Von Ziegesar
    Reasons: drugs, offensive language, sexually explicit
  10. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
    Reasons: offensive language, racism


Top Ten for 2010

Out of 348 challenges recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom

  1. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
    Reasons: homosexuality, religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: offensive language, racism, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
  3. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
    Reasons: insensitivity, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit
  4. Crank, by Ellen Hopkins
    Reasons: drugs, offensive language, sexually explicit
  5. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
    Reasons: sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
  6. Lush, by Natasha Friend
    Reasons: drugs, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  7. What My Mother Doesn't Know, by Sonya Sones
    Reasons: sexism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  8. Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich
    Reasons: drugs, inaccurate, offensive language, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint
  9. Revolutionary Voices, edited by Amy Sonnie
    Reasons: homosexuality, sexually explicit
  10. Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer
    Reasons: religious viewpoint, violence


Top Ten for 2009

Out of 460 challenges recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom

  1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
    Reasons: drugs, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  2. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
    Reasons: homosexuality
  3. The Perks of Being A Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
    Reasons: anti-family, drugs, homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited to age group
  4. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
    Reasons: offensive language, racism, unsuited to age group
  5. Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer
    Reasons: religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  6. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  7. My Sister's Keeper, by Jodi Picoult
    Reasons: homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
  8. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  9. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  10. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
    Reasons: nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group


Top Ten for 2008

Out of 513 challenges recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom

  1. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
    Reasons: anti-ethnic, anti-family, homosexuality, religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group
  2. His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pullman
    Reasons: political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, violence
  3. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  4. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
    Reasons: occult/satanism, religious viewpoint, violence
  5. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
    Reasons: occult/satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, violence
  6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
    Reasons: drugs, homosexuality, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited to age group
  7. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  8. Uncle Bobby's Wedding, by Sarah S. Brannen
    Reasons: homosexuality, unsuited to age group
  9. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  10. Flashcards of My Life, by Charise Mericle Harper
    Reasons: sexually explicit, unsuited to age group


Top Ten for 2007

Out of 420 challenges recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom

  1. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
    Reasons:  anti-ethnic, anti-family, homosexuality, religious viewpoint, sexism, unsuited to age group
  2. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, violence
  3. Olive's Ocean, by Kevin Henkes
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit
  4. The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman
    Reason: religious viewpoint 
  5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
    Reason: racism
  6. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
    Reasons: homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit
  7. ttyl, by Lauren Myracle
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  8. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
    Reason: sexually explicit
  9. It's Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
    Reasons: sex education, sexually explicit
  10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
    Reasons: homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group


Top Ten for 2006

Out of 546 challenges recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom

  1. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
    Reasons: anti-family, homosexuality, unsuited to age group
  2. Gossip Girls (series), by Cecily Von Ziegesar
    Reasons: homosexuality, sexually explicit, offensive language, unsuited to age group
  3. Alice (series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
    Reasons: offensive language and sexually explicit
  4. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
    Reasons: anti-family, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  5. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  6. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
    Reasons:  insensitivity, occult/Satanism, unsuited to age group, violence
  7. Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher
    Reasons: homosexuality, offensive language
  8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
    Reasons: homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  9. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  10. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, violence


Top Ten for 2005

Out of 405 challenges recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom

  1. It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health, by Robie H. Harris
    Reasons: abortion, homosexuality, nudity, religious viewpoint, sex education, unsuited to age group
  2. Forever, by Judy Blume
    Reasons: offensive language, sexual content
  3. The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger
    Reasons: sexual content, offensive language, unsuited to age group
  4. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
    Reasons: sexual content, offensive language
  5. Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
    Reasons: racism, offensive language
  6. Detour for Emmy, by Marilyn Reynolds
    Reason: sexual content
  7. What My Mother Doesn't Know, by Sonya Sones
    Reasons: sexual content, being unsuited to age group
  8. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
    Reasons: anti-family content, unsuited to age group, violence
  9. Crazy Lady!, by Jane Leslie Conly
    Reason: offensive language
  10. It's So Amazing! A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families, by Robie H. Harris
    Reasons: sex education, sexual content


Top Ten for 2004

Out of 547 challenges recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom

  1. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
    Reasons: offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
  2. Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
    Reasons: offensive language, racism, violence
  3. Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture, by Michael A. Bellesiles
    Reasons: inaccurate, political viewpoint
  4. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit
  5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
    Reasons: homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit 
  6. What My Mother Doesn't Know, by Sonya Sones
    Reasons: offensive language, unsuited to age group, sexually explicit
  7. In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
    Reasons: nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit
  8. King & King, by Linda deHaan
    Reason: homosexuality
  9. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
    Reasons: homosexuality, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  10. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
    Reasons: offensive language, racism, violence

Top Ten for 2003

Out of 458 challenges recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom

  1. Alice (series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
    Reasons: sexual content, offensive language, unsuited to age group
  2. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling 
    Reasons: occult/Satanism
  3. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck 
    Reason: offensive language
  4. Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture, by Michael Bellesiles
    Reason: inaccuracy
  5. Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers 
    Reason: drugs, offensive language, racism, sexual content, violence
  6. Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous 
    Reason: drugs
  7. It's Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris 
    Reasons: homosexuality, nudity, sexual content, sex education
  8. We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier 
    Reasons: offensive language, sexual content
  9. King & King, by Linda de Haan 
    Reason: homosexuality
  10. Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
    Reasons: occult/Satanism, offensive language


Top Ten for 2002

Out of 515 challenges recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom

  1. Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling
    Reasons: occult/Satanism, violence
  2. Alice (series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
    Reasons: homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  4. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
  5. Taming the Star Runner, by S.E. Hinton
    Reason: offensive language
  6. Captain Underpants, by Dav Pilkey
    Reasons: offensive language, unsuited to age group
  7. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
    Reason: offensive language
  8. Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
    Reasons: occult/Satanism, offensive language, violence
  9. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D. Taylor
    Reason: offensive language
  10. Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George
    Reasons: unsuited to age group, violence


Top Ten for 2001

Out of 448 challenges recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom

  1. Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling
    Reasons: anti-family, occult/Satanism, religious viewpoint, violence
  2. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
    Reasons: offensive language, racism, unsuited to age group, violence
  3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
  4. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit
  5. Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Greene
    Reasons: offensive language, racism, sexually explicit
  6. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
    Reasons: offensive language, unsuited to age group
  7. Alice (series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
    Reasons: sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  8. Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
    Reasons: drugs, offensive language, sexually explicit
  9. Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
    Reason: offensive language
  10. Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause
    Reasons: sexually explicit, unsuited to age group


Background Information from 2000 to 2009

View the 2000-2009 book challenge infographic

From 2000 to 2009, 5,099* challenges were reported to the Office for Intellectual Freedom.

  • 1,577 challenges due to "sexually explicit" material
  • 1,291 challenges due to "offensive language"
  • 989 challenges due to materials deemed "unsuited to age group"
  • 619 challenged due to "violence"'
  • 361 challenges due to "homosexuality"

Further, 274 materials were challenged due to "occult" or "Satanic" themes, an additional 291 were challenged due to their "religious viewpoint," and 119 because they were "anti-family."

Please note that the number of challenges and the number of reasons for those challenges do not match because works are often challenged on more than one ground.

1,639 of these challenges were in school libraries; 1,811 were in classrooms; 1,217 took place in public libraries. There were 114 challenges to materials used in college classes, and 30 to academic libraries. There are isolated cases of challenges to library materials made available in or by prisons, special libraries, community groups, and students.

The vast majority of challenges were initiated by parents (2,535), with patrons and administrators to follow (516 and 489 respectively).

* We receive challenge reports after the Top Ten lists have been published. This number reflects all the challenges we received since July 31, 2013 for the 2000-2009 time period.

Before 1990

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.