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By Alexis D.

Banned Books Week 2021 is September 26 – October 2. Banned Books Week highlights challenged and banned books and celebrates the freedom to read. The American Library Association defines a challenge to a book as “an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group.” Banned Books Week has been celebrated since the 1980s, with support from librarians, teachers, publishers, and readers of all ages. The theme for this year’s event is “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.” 

While book challenges may seem like something out of a dystopian novel, in reality, there are always people attempting to limit the freedom to read. Very recently, a Pennsylvania school board reversed a decision to ban over 200 items after a large public outcry. Amongst the titles on the list of banned books were I Am Rosa Parks by Brad Meltzer and Malala: My Story of Standing Up for Girls’ Rights by Malala Yousafzai.

The Top 10 Challenged Books from 2020 

  1. George by Alex Gino. Challenged, banned, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, conflicting with a religious viewpoint, and not reflecting “the values of our community.”
  2. Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds. Banned and challenged because of the author’s public statements and because of claims that the book contains “selective storytelling incidents” and does not encompass racism against all people.
  3. All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. Banned and challenged for profanity, drug use, and alcoholism and because it was thought to promote anti-police views, contain divisive topics, and be “too much of a sensitive matter right now.”
  4. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Banned, challenged, and restricted because it was thought to contain a political viewpoint, it was claimed to be biased against male students, and it included rape and profanity.
  5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references, and allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of the author.
  6. Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story about Racial Injustice by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard, illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin. Challenged for “divisive language” and because it was thought to promote antipolice views.
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Banned and challenged for racial slurs and their negative effect on students, featuring a “white savior” character, and its perception of the Black experience.
  8. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. Banned and challenged for racial slurs and racist stereotypes and their negative effect on students.
  9. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and depicts child sexual abuse.
  10. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Challenged for profanity, and because it was thought to promote an anti-police message. 

Interested in reading one of these titles? EVPL has all of the titles in our collection.

Worried about censorship in your community? You can submit a Challenge Report. All personal information will remain confidential. 

Alexis D.

Alexis D.


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