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ALA Announces 2018’s Top 11 Banned Books

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Ashley Holstrom

Staff Writer

Ashley Holstrom helps make books at Sourcebooks. She lives near Chicago with her cat named after Hemingway and her bookshelves organized by color. Newsletter: Crooked Reads. Twitter: @alholstrom.

It’s that time of year when we love on our libraries and the American Library Association announces its most banned books of the year.

The ALA reported 347 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services in 2018. A total of 483 books were challenged or banned, and this year earned an extra title in the usual Top 10 Most-Challenged Books list, making it the Top 11 Most-Challenged Books.

Of these 11 books, three are picture books, three are middle grade, and five are young adult. Half of the books (actually, more than half—six!) were challenged for containing LGBTQIA+ content. Two of the books (This Day in June and Two Boys Kissing) were noted as having been burned.

Here’s the list, which I think is actually a pretty great reading list for anyone looking to broaden their world views. There’s quite a bit of overlap from 2017’s banned books, including the same YA books written by men with sexual assault accusations (Jay Asher and Sherman Alexie).

George by Alex GinoGeorge by Alex Gino

Reasons: It was believed to encourage children to clear browser history and change their bodies using hormones, and for mentioning “dirty magazines,” describing male anatomy, “creating confusion,” and including a transgender character.

George has been on the banned books list three times, every year since its release in 2015.

A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG Keller

Reasons: Includes LGBTQIA+ content and political and religious viewpoints.

I imagine our pal Marlon Bundo will be on the list for many years to come.

Captain Underpants series written and illustrated by Dav Pilkey

Reasons: It was perceived as encouraging disruptive behavior, while Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-A-Lot was challenged for including a same-sex couple.

The brave Captain Underpants has only been on the list five times since 2002.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas Book CoverThe Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Reasons: It was deemed “anti-cop” and includes profanity, drug use, and sexual references.

The Hate U Give has been on the list twice since its publication in 2017.

Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier

Reasons: Includes LGBTQIA+ characters and themes.

Drama has been on the list four times since its publication in 2012.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Reasons: Addresses teen suicide.

Thirteen Reasons Why flew under the radar for the first five years after its 2007 release, only making it to the Top 10 Banned Books List in 2012. It fell off the list again for another five years, until 2017 with the release of the Netflix show under the same name. But censorship won’t help.

this one summer book coverThis One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki

Reasons: Includes profanity and sexual references.

This One Summer has only been on the list once before: in 2016, two years after its 2014 release.

Skippyjon Jones series written and illustrated by Judy Schachner

Reason: Depicts stereotypes of Mexican culture.

This is SkippyJon Jones‘s debut on the banned books list. The first book in the series was published in 2003.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Reasons: Includes sexual references, profanity, violence, gambling, and underage drinking.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian first appeared on the banned books list in 2010, three years after its publication, and has been on the list seven times since then.

This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman, illustrated by Kristyna Litten

Reason: Includes LGBTQIA+ content.

This Day in June was published in 2013 and this is its first year on the list. It’s also noted as a book that has been burned.

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Reason: Includes LGBTQIA+ content.

Two Boys Kissing came out in 2013, first appeared on the list in 2015, and has been on the list three times since. It was also noted as being burned.

Looking back through the ALA’s banned books lists is fascinating. Their data only goes back to 2001, and for most of those early years, it’s made up of the same books, year after year. Harry Potter. The Bluest Eye. Of Mice and Men. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. One year the Bible made it to the list, which is interesting???

Books were banned because of religious (or, well, non-Christian) or sexual content for most years. In the last few years, more and more books are challenged for containing LGBTQIA+ content.

If you’re enraged that banning books is still a thing, welcome to the club. We have lots of fun Banned Books Week content, including Challenged Books Retitled as Clickbait and this quiz to see if you can identify the banned book by its complaint.