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Banned and Challenged Books List

A short list of notable books that have been banned and/or challenged across the nation. More titles and information can be found at Banned & Challenged Books, a website of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom. 

Board Books & Picture Books

Cover of The Undefeated
Kwame
Alexander
Kadir Nelson
2019

Reasons cited: Banned and challenged for promoting Critical Race Theory

This poem is a love letter to black life in the United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world's greatest heroes. The text is also peppered with references to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others, offering deeper insights into the accomplishments of the past, while bringing attention to the endurance and spirit of those surviving and thriving in the present.

Cover of When Aidan Became A Brothe
Kyle
Lukoff
Kaylani Juanita
2019

Reasons cited: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content

When Aidan was born, everyone thought he was a girl. His parents gave him a pretty name, his room looked like a girl's room, and he wore clothes that other girls liked wearing. After he realized he was a trans boy, Aidan and his parents fixed the parts of his life that didn't fit anymore, and he settled happily into his new life.

Then Mom and Dad announce that they're going to have another baby, and Aidan wants to do everything he can to make things right for his new sibling from the beginning. With a little help, Aidan comes to understand that mistakes can be fixed with honesty and communication, and that he already knows the most important thing about being a big brother: how to love with his whole self.

This is a heartwarming book that will resonate with transgender children, reassure any child concerned about becoming an older sibling, and celebrate the many transitions a family can experience.

Cover of The 1619 Project: Born in
Nikole Hannah-Jones and
Renée Watson
Nikkolas Smith
2021

Reasons cited: Banned and challenged for promoting Critical Race Theory 

The 1619 Project’s lyrical picture book in verse chronicles the consequences of slavery and the history of Black resistance in the United States. A young student receives a family tree assignment in school, but she can only trace back three generations. Grandma gathers the whole family, and the student learns that 400 years ago, in 1619, their ancestors were stolen and brought to America by white slave traders. But before that, they had a home, a land, a language. She learns how the people said to be born on the water survived.

Teen Fiction

Cover of Dear Martin
Nic
Stone
2017

Reasons cited: Banned and challenged for being divisive, containing sensitive content including acts of violence, police brutality, and frequent swearing

Justyce is a good kid, an honor student, and always there to help a friend—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs without cause. When faced with injustice, Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out. Then comes the day Justyce and a friend spark the fury of an off-duty cop. Words fly, shots are fired, and the boys get caught in the crosshairs. But in the media fallout, it's Justyce who is under attack.

Cover of The Hate U Give
Angie
Thomas
2017

Reasons cited in 2021 by the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom: Banned and challenged for profanity, violence, and because it was thought to promote an anti-police message and indoctrination of a social agenda

After witnessing her friend's death at the hands of a police officer, Starr Carter's life is complicated when the police and a local drug lord try to intimidate her in an effort to learn what happened the night Kahlil died.

 

Cover of Lawn Boy
Jonathan
Evison
2018

Reasons cited in 2021 by the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to be sexually explicit

For Mike Muñoz, life has been a whole lot of waiting for something to happen. Not too many years out of high school and still doing menial work--and just fired from his latest gig as a lawn boy on a landscaping crew--he’s smart enough to know that he’s got to be the one to shake things up if he’s ever going to change his life. But how? He’s not qualified for much of anything. He has no particular talents, although he is stellar at handling a lawn mower and wielding clipping shears. But now that career seems to be behind him. So what’s next for Mike Muñoz? In this funny, biting, touching, and ultimately inspiring novel, bestselling author Jonathan Evison takes the reader into the heart and mind of a young man determined to achieve the American dream of happiness and prosperity--who just so happens to find himself along the way.

Cover of Last Night at the Telegrap
Malinda
Lo
2021

Reasons cited: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content

Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can't remember exactly when the feeling took root--that desire to look, to move closer, to touch. Whenever it started growing, it definitely bloomed the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club. Suddenly everything seemed possible. America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. 

Teen Non-fiction

Cover of All Boys Aren’t Blue: A
George M.
Johnson
2020

Reasons cited in 2021 by the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content, profanity, and because it was considered to be sexually explicit

In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, this young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys. 

Cover of Beyond Magenta: Transgende
Susan
Kuklin
2014

Reasons cited in 2021 by the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to be sexually explicit

Author and photographer Susan Kuklin met and interviewed six transgender or gender-neutral young adults and used her considerable skills to represent them thoughtfully and respectfully before, during, and after their personal acknowledgment of gender preference. Portraits, family photographs, and candid images grace the pages, augmenting the emotional and physical journey each youth has taken. Each honest discussion and disclosure, whether joyful or heartbreaking, is completely different from the other because of family dynamics, living situations, gender, and the transition these teens make in recognition of their true selves.

Cover of Gender Queer: A Memoir
Maia
Kobabe
2019

Reasons cited in 2021 by the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom: Banned, challenged, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, and because it was considered to have sexually explicit images

In 2014, Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, thought that a comic of reading statistics would be the last autobiographical comic e would ever write. At the time, it was the only thing e felt comfortable with strangers knowing about em. Now, Gender Queer is here. Maia’s intensely cathartic autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fan fiction, and facing the trauma and fundamental violation of pap smears.