Enrichment Education

Here are the top 10 most challenged books of 2021

Most of the books that made the list have been challenged for containing LGBTQ+-related content.
Stack of books, blurry background
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Story at a glance

  • Book challenges reached a new high in 2021.

  • The American Library Association tracked more than 700 challenges to library or school teaching material to come up with a list on the top most challenged books of last year.

  • “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe was the most challenged book of last year, according to the ALA.

The United States has seen a major uptick in the number of attempted book bans. Last year, the American Library Association tracked 729 challenges to library, school or university teaching material, resulting in 1,590 book challenges or removals. The bulk of those challenged books were written by or about Black people or members of the LGBTQ+ community.  

Those challenges represent the greatest number of attempted book bans since the organization began compiling its challenged books lists 20 years ago, ALA President Patricia Wong said in a statement.  

Every year, the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom creates a list of the top 10 most challenged books to teach the public about censorship in libraries and schools.  


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“We support individual parents’ choices concerning their child’s reading and believe that parents should not have those choices dictated by others. Young people need to have access to a variety of books from which they can learn about different perspectives,” Wong said. “So, despite this organized effort to ban books, libraries remain ready to do what we always have: make knowledge and ideas available so people are free to choose what to read.” 

Here are the Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2021  

1. “Gender Queer,” by Maia Kobabe Reasons: Banned, challenged and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to have sexually explicit images. 

2. “Lawn Boy,” by Jonathan Evison Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to be sexually explicit. 

3. “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” by George M. Johnson Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content, profanity, and because it was considered to be sexually explicit. 

4. “Out of Darkness,” by Ashley Hope Perez Reasons: Banned, challenged and restricted for depictions of abuse and because it was considered to be sexually explicit. 

5. “The Hate U Give,” by Angie Thomas Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, violence and because it was thought to promote an anti-police message and indoctrination of a social agenda. 

6. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references and use of a derogatory term. 

7. “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” by Jesse Andrews Reasons: Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and degrading to women. 

8. “The Bluest Eye,” by Toni Morrison Reasons: Banned and challenged because it depicts child sexual abuse and was considered sexually explicit. 

9. “This Book is Gay,” by Juno Dawson Reasons: Banned, challenged, relocated and restricted for providing sexual education and LGBTQIA+ content. 

10. “Beyond Magenta,” by Susan Kuklin Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to be sexually explicit. 


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