- The American Library Association released a list of the top 11 most challenged books of 2018.
- “George” – by Alex Gino about a transgender girl – was the most challenged book.
- A majority of books on the list contain LGBTQ themes.
Every year, the American Library Association (ALA) tracks challenges to books in schools and libraries from concerned readers who want them censored, removed, or banned altogether.
In 2018, 483 books were challenged or banned. Classic pieces of literature such as “The Catcher in the Rye” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” often elicit complaints from parents or school boards, but contemporary books have also proven controversial.
Read more: 10 books that have been banned in schools
Of the ALA’s list of the top 11 most contested reads (two books tied for 10th place), over half of them contain LGBTQ themes. Other common objections include profanity and content deemed too sexually explicit.
Here are the 11 most challenged books of 2018.
11. “Two Boys Kissing” by David Levithan
In 2014, a parent tried to have “Two Boys Kissing” removed from a Virginia high school because she said the cover image violated the school’s policies on public displays of affection, LGBTQ Nation reported. Librarian Becca Isaac said that other book covers show straight couples kissing without issue.
In 2018, the leader of a religious group called Rescue the Perishing checked “Two Boys Kissing” and other books with LGBTQ content out of an Iowa public library and burned them while broadcasting it on Facebook Live, reported the Des Moines Register. He pleaded not guilty to criminal mischief charges in January.
10. “This Day in June” by Gayle E. Pitman, illustrated by Kristyna Litten
A Chicago couple filed a complaint with the West Chicago Public Library in 2017 asking that “This Day in June,” a children’s picture book about a gay pride parade, be removed from the library or from the children’s section, according to the Chicago Tribune. Over 150 people attended a library board meeting to speak about the issue, and the board voted to keep the book.
9. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie
Parents have objected to the explicit language and mentions of masturbation in “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” a book about a boy growing up on a Native American reservation, according to the ALA. It was removed from but later restored to an Alaska high school’s alternative reading list in 2017, and was challenged in Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, and California.
8. “Skippyjon Jones” series written and illustrated by Judy Schachner
“Skippyjon Jones” is about a Siamese cat pretending to be a Spanish-speaking Chihuahua superhero. The book has garnered criticism for its portrayal of the Mexican language and culture.
7. “This One Summer” by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
“This One Summer” was the most-challenged book of 2016 because of objections to its LGBTQ characters, drug use, profanity, and “mature themes,” according to the American Library Association. In 2018, it was still getting complaints.
6. “Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher
The book “Thirteen Reasons Why” was the most challenged book in schools in 2017 because its plot revolves around suicide.
The book was published in 2007 but has regained popularity due to the Netflix series based on it. The graphic content in the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” has also raised concerns among teachers.
5. “Drama” written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
“Drama,” a graphic novel about a theatre troupe, involves a crush between two male friends of the main character. It was banned from Texas schools on three separate occasions from 2014 to 2017, according to the Comic Book Legal Defence Fund.
4. “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas
While “The Hate U Give” wasn’t technically banned in Katy, Texas, the school district’s superintendent removed it from the district’s libraries in 2017 while it was under review after a parent complained about the book’s profanity. Critics said that removing the book while it was being reviewed was a violation of the district’s review policies.
Author Angie Thomas tweeted her dismay.
“I’m saddened to hear that a school district in Texas banned #TheHateUGive, but I’m also empowered – you’re basically telling the kids of the Garden Heights of the world that their stories shouldn’t be told,” she wrote. “Well, I’m going to tell them even louder. Thanks for igniting the fire.”
Fifteen-year-old student Ny’Shira Lundy collected 4,000 signatures in support of the book. The district put the books back on library shelves, but students must have permission from a parent to check it out.
Complaints from the Fraternal Order of Police in Charleston County, South Carolina, also put the book under review at Wando High School due to what the group called its “indoctrination of distrust of police,” according to the ALA. The book is about a black teenager named Starr who witnesses the shooting of her friend by a police officer during a traffic stop.
3. “Captain Underpants” series written and illustrated by Dav Pilkey
“Captain Underpants” beat out “Fifty Shades of Grey” as the most banned book in America in 2012. In complaints filed to the Office for Intellectual Freedom, parents said the books contain “offensive language” that is inappropriate for elementary-school children, Business Insider previously reported.
2. “A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo” by Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG Keller
In 2018, John Oliver released a children’s book about Mike Pence’s family rabbit Marlon Bundo being gay as a parody of the original version by the Pence family. In a segment on “Last Week Tonight” announcing the book, he called out Pence’s “hostility to LGBT rights.” The parody book outsold the original.
1. “George” by Alex Gino
“George,” a transgender girl’s coming-of-age story, was the most-challenged book of 2018. The ALA cites reasons such as “mentioning ‘dirty magazines,'” “describing male anatomy,” and “creating confusion.”
Two Oregon school districts pulled themselves out of reading program the Oregon Battle of the Books, for example, after “George” became one of 16 books selected for its 2018-19 year, The New York Times reported.
- Read more:
- 10 books that have been banned in schools
- The 20 best-selling books of all time on Amazon – from epic trilogies to ‘The Great Gatsby’
- 13 unforgettable insights from a year reading about relationships, time management, and getting ahead at work
- A children’s book called ‘P is for Pterodactyl’ features the most bizarre words in the English language
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