Memorial Hall Library

Banned Books Week 2018

Every year in the last week of September, the American Library Association and others celebrate Banned Books Week. The name can be confusing because libraries as institutions are focused on providing access to information and the freedom to read, so why would we celebrate book banning? Good news, we're not! Rather, we are calling attention to the fact that many books are challenged every year in libraries and schools across the country. Some of the most common reasons why books are challenged include being "unsuited to their age group",  including LGBTQ content, or including violence or profanity. We are celebrating the fact that the first amendment allows libraries to collect books with challenging points of view.

As libraries and librarians, we know that not every book is appropriate to every reader, but we think that readers should be allowed to make that decision for themselves and their families. We want to provide access to all sorts of titles, knowing that information and representation is important, essential, and affirming. 

The following list collects the top ten most challenged books from 2017. Click on the titles to view and request them from our catalog and celebrate your freedom to read.


	Th1rteen r3asons why : a novel
Th1rteen r3asons why : a novel
by Jay Asher

When high school student Clay Jenkins receives a box in the mail containing thirteen cassette tapes recorded by his classmate Hannah, who committed suicide, he spends a bewildering and heartbreaking night crisscrossing their town, listening to Hannah's voice recounting the events leading up to her death.

Why was it challenged? Originally published in 2007, this New York Times bestseller has resurfaced as a controversial book after Netflix aired a TV series by the same name. This YA novel was challenged and banned in multiple school districts because it discusses suicide.   
 

	The absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian
The absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian
by Sherman Alexie

Leaving the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white high school, Junior struggles to find his place in his new surroundings in order to escape his destiny back on the reservation.

Why was it challenged? Consistently challenged since its publication in 2007 for acknowledging issues such as poverty, alcoholism, and sexuality, this National Book Award winner was challenged in school curriculums because of profanity and situations that were deemed sexually explicit. 

	Drama
Drama
by Raina Telgemeier

Designing sets for her middle school's play, Callie tries to overcome limited carpentry skills, low ticket sales and squabbling crew members only to find her efforts further complicated by the arrival of two cute brothers.

Why was it challenged? This Stonewall Honor Award-winning, 2012 graphic novel from an acclaimed cartoonist was challenged and banned in school libraries because it includes LGBT characters and was considered “confusing.”

	The kite runner
The kite runner
by Khaled Hosseini

Traces the unlikely friendship of a wealthy Afghan youth and a servant's son, in a tale that spans the final days of Afghanistan's monarchy through the atrocities of the present day.

Why was it challenged? This critically acclaimed, multigenerational novel was challenged and banned because it includes sexual violence and was thought to “lead to terrorism” and “promote Islam.”

	George
George
by Alex Gino

Knowing herself to be a girl despite her outwardly male appearance, George is denied a female role in the class play before teaming up with a friend to reveal her true self.

Why was it challenged? Written for elementary-age children, this Lambda Literary Award winner was challenged and banned because it includes a transgender child.

	Sex is a funny word : a book about bodies, feelings, and YOU
Sex is a funny word : a book about bodies, feelings, and YOU
by Cory Silverberg

A comic book for kids that includes children and families of all makeups, orientations, and gender identities, Sex Is a Funny Word is an essential resource about bodies, gender, and sexuality for children ages 8 to 10 as well as their parents and caregivers. Much more than the "facts of life" or "the birds and the bees," Sex Is a Funny Word opens up conversations between young people and their caregivers in a way that allows adults to convey their values and beliefs while providing information about boundaries, safety, and joy. The eagerly anticipated follow up to Lambda-nominated What Makes a Baby, from sex educator Cory Silverberg and artist Fiona Smyth, Sex Is a Funny Word reimagines "sex talk" for the twenty-first century.

Why was it challenged? This 2015 informational children’s book written by a certified sex educator was challenged because it addresses sex education and is believed to lead children to “want to have sex or ask questions about sex.”

	To kill a mockingbird
To kill a mockingbird
by Harper Lee

A deluxe hardcover edition commemorates the 50th anniversary of the beloved classic novel about racial justice in the Deep South, a story that inspired an equally beloved movie and inspired the generations that followed. 

Why was it challenged? This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, considered an American classic, was challenged and banned because of violence and its use of the N-word.

	The hate u give
The hate u give
by Angie Thomas

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. Itcould also endanger her life.

Why was it challenged? Despite winning multiple awards and being the most searched-for book on Goodreads during its debut year, this YA novel was challenged and banned in school libraries and curriculums because it was considered “pervasively vulgar” and because of drug use, profanity, and offensive language.

	And Tango makes three
And Tango makes three
by Justin Richardson

Publishing to coincide with the 10th anniversary of And Tango Makes Three, a board book edition of the classic story of a nontraditional penguin family describes the bond between male penguins Roy and Silo and the zookeeper who helped them raise a chick.

Why was it challenged? Returning after a brief hiatus from the Top Ten Most Challenged list, this ALA Notable Children’s Book, published in 2005, was challenged and labeled because it features a same-sex relationship.

	I am Jazz!
I am Jazz!
by Jessica Herthel

Based on the young co-author's real-life experiences, the story of a transgender child traces her early awareness that she is a girl in spite of male anatomy and the acceptance she finds through a wise doctor who explains her natural transgender status.

Why was it challenged? This autobiographical picture book co-written by the 13-year-old protagonist was challenged because it addresses gender identity.