Frequently challenged books of the 21st century

Each year, the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom compiles a list of the top ten most frequently challenged books in order to inform the public about censorship in libraries and schools. The ALA condemns censorship and works to ensure free access to information.

A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness. The number of challenges reflects only incidents reported. We estimate that for every reported challenge, four or five remain unreported. Therefore, we do not claim comprehensiveness in recording challenges.

Background Information from 2000 to 2009

Over this recent past decade, 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"' and
  • 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 list has been published. This number reflects all the challenges we received since July 31, 2013 for the 2000-2009 time period.

Top Ten Challenged Books Lists by Year: 2001-2013

Find out if your favorite book has been banned or challenged by exploring the top ten lists of the 21st century below. For more information on how many books were challenged in a given year or for reasons why these books were challenged, please explore the top ten list by year.

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001

2013

Out of 307 challenges as reported 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
    Reasons: Political viewpoint, racism, violence

2012

Out of 464 challenges as reported 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

 2011

Out of 326 challenges as reported 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

   2010

Out of 348 challenges as reported by the Office for Intellectual Freedom

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

 

   2009

Out of 460 challenges as reported to 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

   2008

Out of 513 challenges as reported to the Office for Intellectual Freedom

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

   2007

Out of 420 challenges reported to 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, and 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 and sexually explicit
  10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
    Reasons: homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group

   2006

Out of 546 challenges reported to the Office for Intellectual Freedom

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

   2005

Out of 405 challenges reported to 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

   2004

Out of 547 challenges reported to 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

   2003

Out of 458 challenges reported to 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 
    Reason: homosexuality, nudity, sexual content, sex education
  8. We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier 
    Reason: offensive language, sexual content
  9. King & King, by Linda de Haan 
    Reason: homosexuality
  10. Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
    Reason: occult/Satanism, offensive language

   2002

Out of 515 challenges reported to 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

   2001

Out of 448 challenges reported to 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