25 Commonly Banned Books In 2021

25 Commonly Banned Books In 2021

Each year in the United States books are banned, restricted, or challenged by educators, parents, and religious organizations with justifications commonly based on opposing political and religious viewpoints, explicit content, LGBTQIA+ content, or violence. Banned Books Week, an annual event held during the last week of September, promotes the freedom to read and brings attention to banned and challenged books. From data from the American Library Association (ALA), we compiled some of the most banned and challenged books of the last five years and encourage you to read at least one of the banned, restricted, or challenged books during Banned Books Week 2021 from September 26-October 2.

1. George by Alex Gino

Reasons for being banned, restricted, or challenged: LGBTQIA+ content, conflicting with a religious viewpoint, and not reflecting “the values of our community”; for a transgender character; because schools and libraries should not “put books in a child’s hand that require discussion”; for sexual references; and for conflicting with a religious viewpoint and “traditional family structure”; believed to encourage children to clear browser history and change their bodies using hormones, and for mentioning “dirty magazines,” describing male anatomy, “creating confusion”; “sexuality was not appropriate at elementary levels.”

2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Reasons for being banned, restricted, or challenged: Profanity, sexual references, and allegations of sexual misconduct by the author; for violence, gambling, and underage drinking, and for its religious viewpoint.

3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Reasons for being banned, restricted, or challenged: Racial slurs and their negative effect on students, featuring a “white savior” character, and its perception of the Black experience; because of violence and its use of the N-word.

4. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Reasons for being banned, restricted, or challenged: For profanity, and it was thought to promote an anti-police message; for drug use, and sexual references; considered “pervasively vulgar.”

5. Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds

Reasons for being banned, restricted, or 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.

6. All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

Reasons for being banned, restricted, or 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.”

7. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Reasons for being banned, restricted, or challenged: 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.

8. Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard, illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin

Reasons for being banned, restricted, or challenged: “Divisive language” and because it was thought to promote anti-police views.

9. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Reasons for being banned, restricted, or challenged: Racial slurs and racist stereotypes, and their negative effect on students.

10. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Reasons for being banned, restricted, or challenged: Because it was considered sexually explicit and depicts child sexual abuse.

11. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Reasons for being banned, restricted, or challenged: For profanity and for “vulgarity and sexual overtones.”

12. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin

Reasons for being banned, restricted, or challenged: For LGBTQIA+ content, for “its effect on any young people who would read it,” and for concerns that it was sexually explicit and biased.

13. A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG Keller

Reasons for being banned, restricted, or challenged: For LGBTQIA+ content and political viewpoints, for concerns that it is “designed to pollute the morals of its readers,” and for not including a content warning; for religious viewpoints.

14. Sex is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smyth

Reasons for being banned, restricted, or challenged: For LGBTQIA+ content; for discussing gender identity and sex education; and for concerns that the title and illustrations were “inappropriate”; believed to lead children to “want to have sex or ask questions about sex.”

15. I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas

Reasons for being banned, restricted, or challenged: For LGBTQIA+ content, for a transgender character, and for confronting a topic that is “sensitive, controversial, and politically charged.”

16. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Reasons for being banned, restricted, or challenged: Because it includes sexual violence and was thought to “lead to terrorism” and “promote Islam.”

17. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Reasons for being banned, restricted, or challenged: For addressing teen suicide.

18. Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Reasons for being banned, restricted, or challenged: For including LGBTQIA+ content.

19. Looking for Alaska by John Green

Reasons for being banned, restricted, or challenged: For a sexually explicit scene that may lead a student to “sexual experimentation.”

20. Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

Reasons for being banned, restricted, or challenged: For referring to magic and witchcraft, for containing actual curses and spells, and for characters that use “nefarious means” to attain goals.

21. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Reasons for being banned, restricted, or challenged: For offensive language.

22. Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread by Chuck Palahniuk

Reasons for being banned, restricted, or challenged: For profanity, sexual explicitness, and being “disgusting and all around offensive.”

23. Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier

Reasons for being banned, restricted, or challenged: Because it includes LGBT characters, was deemed sexually explicit, and was considered to have an offensive political viewpoint; for concerns that it goes against “family values/morals.”

24. And Tango Makes Three written by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson and illustrated by Henry Cole

Reasons for being banned, restricted, or challenged: Because it features a same-sex relationship.

25. This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman, illustrated by Kristyna Litten

Reasons for being banned, restricted, or challenged: For including LGBTQIA+ content.

Related: 30 Quotes From Banned Books To Celebrate Banned Books Week

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