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Banned Books Week: Home

"Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us."

Every year, Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to read and spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. The books featured:

  • Have all been targeted for removal or restriction in libraries and schools.
  • Are based on information from media stories and voluntary challenge reports sent to OIF from communities across the United States. 
  • American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 729 challenges to library, school and university materials and services in 2021, resulting in more than 1,597 individual book challenges or removals.
  • Most targeted books were by or about Black or LGBTQIA+ person.

Banned Books Available at Murphy Library

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

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 

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 

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 

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

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

Melissa by Alex Gino 
Reasons: Challenged, banned, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, conflicting with a religious viewpoint, and not reflecting “the values of our community” 

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds 
Reasons: Banned and challenged because of author’s public statements, and because of claims that the book contains “selective storytelling incidents” and does not encompass racism against all people 

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson 
Reasons: Banned, challenged, and restricted because it was thought to contain a political viewpoint and it was claimed to be biased against male students, and for the novel’s inclusion of rape and profanity 

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck 
Reasons: Banned and challenged for racial slurs and racist stereotypes, and their negative effect on students 

And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson illustrated by Henry Cole 
Reason: challenged and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content 

Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling 
Reasons: banned and forbidden from discussion for referring to magic and witchcraft, for containing actual curses and spells, and for characters that use “nefarious means” to attain goals 

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher 
Reasons: banned, challenged, and restricted for addressing teen suicide 

Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier 
Reasons: banned and challenged for including LGBTQIA+ characters and themes 

I Am Jazz written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas 
This autobiographical picture book co-written by the 13-year-old protagonist was challenged because it addresses gender identity. 

Looking for Alaska written by John Green 
Reasons: challenged for a sexually explicit scene that may lead a student to “sexual experimentation” 

Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel 
Reasons: violence and other (“graphic images”) 

Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James 
Reasons: sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and other (“poorly written,” “concerns that a group of teenagers will want to try it”) 

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood 
Reasons: banned and challenged for profanity and for “vulgarity and sexual overtones” 

Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi 
Reasons: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions” 

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely 
Reasons: 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” 

Sex is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smyth 
Reasons: challenged, banned, and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content; for discussing gender identity and sex education; and for concerns that the title and illustrations were “inappropriate”  

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki 
Reasons: banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references, and certain illustrations 

Maus by Art Spiegelman 
Reasons: Nudity; Disturbing imagery 

The Color Purple by Alice Walker 
Reasons: Challenged for language and sexual explicitness 

Beloved by Toni Morrison 
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group 

Twilight (Series) by Stephenie Meyer 
Reasons: religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group 

Captain Underpants, by Dav Pilkey 
Reasons: offensive language, unsuited to age group 

His Dark Materials Trilogy, by Philip Pullman 
Reason: religious viewpoint  

The Holy Bible  
Reason: Religious viewpoint 

The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien 

Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan 
Reasons: challenged because its cover has an image of two boys kissing, and it was considered to include sexually explicit LGBT content 

Top Ten Most Challenged Books in 2021

Image of most common reasons for book challenges