ALA releases list of Top 100 Most Banned and Challenged Books of the decade

For Immediate Release
Sun, 09/27/2020

Contact:

Macey Morales

Deputy Director

Communications and Marketing Office

mmorales@ala.org

CHICAGO – Today, the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) released the Top 100 Most Banned and Challenged Books from the past decade. The list’s release launches Banned Books Week, Sept. 27 – Oct. 3, a vibrant week of programming to rally readers to the cause of First Amendment protections and remind them to remain vigilant about continual threats to our freedom to read. 

Sherman Alexie’s “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” tops the list as the most banned and challenged book from 2010-2019. Alexie joins Toni Morrison, Alex Gino, John Green, and E. L. James as some of the most censored authors. Many of the titles on the list have also been adapted for the screen, including “Captain Underpants,” “The Hunger Games,” “Gossip Girl,” “The Hate U Give,” “The Glass Castle” and “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.”

The list includes books challenged for a variety of reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, sexual references, religious viewpoints, content that addresses racism and police brutality, and profanity. Although the reasons differ, the censorship of literature in libraries share a common result: the violation of our First Amendment rights.  

OIF has been documenting attempts to ban books in libraries and schools since 1990. OIF compiled this list of the most banned and challenged books from 2010-2019 by reviewing both the public and confidential censorship reports it received.

This list draws attention to literary censorship but only provides a snapshot of book challenges. About 82-97% of challenges remain unreported, estimates OIF, which compared results from several independent studies of third-party FOIA requests documenting school and library book censorship with the information in its database.

This year’s Banned Books Week theme is Censorship is a Dead End. Find Your Freedom to Read. Banned Books Week is largely going virtual, as libraries, bookstores, universities, and organizations are hosting more online programs. The general public is also welcome to participate in a series of virtual activities.

Each day of Banned Books Week, OIF will promote a different action that draws attention to censorship. Titled #BannedBooksWeek in Action, readers are encouraged to share their activities on social media, with the focus on the following daily topics: Read a banned book (Sunday); Speak out about censorship (Monday); Create something unrestricted (Tuesday); Express the freedom to read in style (Wednesday); Write about your rights (Thursday); Watch, listen and learn from others (Friday); Thank those who defend the freedom to read every day of the year (Saturday).

Readers are encouraged to write, tweet, or email their favorite banned/challenged author during Banned Books Week for the Dear Banned Author letter writing campaign.

The Banned Books Week Facebook page will offer a series of events including: 

Sept. 27, at 2 p.m. CT
Video premiere of City Lit Theater reading excerpts of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2019

Sept. 30, at 1 p.m. CT 
Live Q&A about censorship and the importance of representation in literature with Alex Gino, award-winning author of the banned book “George”

Oct. 2, at 6 p.m. CT
Discussion during the watch party of “Scary Stories,” a documentary about the banned and challenged series “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” by Alvin Schwartz, followed by a live Q&A with director Cody Meirick on the Banned Books Week YouTube channel

To arrange for interviews with library leaders and experts from OIF, contact Macey Morales, deputy director, American Library Association (ALA) Communications and Marketing Office (CMO), at (312) 280-4393 or mmorales@ala.org, or Steve Zalusky, communications specialist, ALA CMO, at (312) 280-1546 or szalusky@ala.org. Banned Books Week artwork is available at ala.org/bbooks/freedownloads

American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, ALA has been the trusted voice of libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit ala.org.