May 16, 2022

ALA Releases Top 10 List of Banned Books of 2021, Book Challenges Top 700 – the Most Since 2000

From the American Library Association:

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:

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

2.    “Lawn Boy,” by Jonathan Evison
Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to be sexually explicit.

3.    “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” by George M. Johnson
Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content, profanity, and because it was considered to be sexually explicit.

4.    “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.

5.    “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.

6.    “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.

7.    “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” by Jesse Andrews
Reasons: Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and degrading to women.

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

9.    “This Book is Gay,” by Juno Dawson
Reasons: Banned, challenged, relocated, and restricted for providing sexual education and LGBTQIA+ content.

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

Recent polling shows that seven in 10 voters oppose efforts to remove books from public libraries, including majorities of voters across party lines. Three-quarters of parents of public-school children (74%) express a high degree of confidence in school librarians to make good decisions about which books to make available to children, and when asked about specific types of books that have been a focus of local debates, large majorities say for each that they should be available in school libraries on an age-appropriate basis.

The new poll is the first to approach the issue of book bans through the lenses of public and school libraries. It also found near-universal high regard for librarians and recognition of the critical role that public and school libraries play in their communities.

In response to the uptick in book challenges and other efforts to suppress access to information, ALA will launch Unite Against Book Bans, a national initiative focused on empowering readers everywhere to stand together in the fight against censorship. More information is available at uniteagainstbookbans.org.

Media Coverage: Library Study Finds ‘Challenged’ Books Soared in 2021 (via AP)

From the Article:

Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, has never been so busy.

“A year ago, we might have been receiving one, maybe two reports a day about a book being challenged at a library. And usually those calls would be for guidance on how to handle a challenge or for materials that support the value of the work being challenged,” Caldwell-Stone told The Associated Press. “Now, we’re getting three, four, five reports a day, many in need of support and some in need of a great deal of support.”

Read the Complete Article

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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