Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2021

The American Library Association (ALA) kicks off National Library Week with the release of its State of America’s Libraries Report, highlighting the challenges U.S. libraries faced in the second year of the pandemic – as well as the ways they innovated to meet the needs of their communities.

Library staff in every state faced an unprecedented number of attempts to ban books. ALA’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+ persons.

“The 729 challenges tracked by ALA represent the highest number of attempted book bans since we began compiling these lists 20 years ago,” said ALA President Patricia “Patty” Wong. “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. 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.”

Below are the Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2021:

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Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe

REASONS: Banned, challenged, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to have sexually explicit images.

Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison

REASONS: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to be sexually explicit.

All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson

REASONS: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content, profanity, and because it was considered to be.

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 it was thought to promote an antipolice 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.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

REASONS: Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and degrading to women.

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

REASONS: Banned and challenged because it depicts child sexual abuse and was considered sexually explicit.

This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson

REASONS: Banned, challenged, relocated, and restricted for providing sexual education and LGBTQIA+ content.

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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