Banned Books @ the Library

Posted on September 26th, 2021 by

Banned Books Week posterLaunched in the 1980s, Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to read and draws attention to attempts to censor books in libraries and schools.  The Gustavus Library endorses the American Library Association’s Freedom to Read Statement and therefore affirms that “the freedom to read is essential to our democracy” and that librarians should “make available the widest diversity of views and expressions.”

Below are the Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2020 and the reasons cited for challenging them (from the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom). You’ll find them in our Banned Books Week Display on the main floor of the library – we encourage you to borrow any of them!

Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2020

  1. George by Alex Gino Gustavus Library Children’s Literature PZ7.G566 G46 2015
    Reasons: Challenged, banned, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, conflicting with a religious viewpoint, and not reflecting “the values of our community”
  2. Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds – Gustavus Library Diversity Display E184.A1 R49 2020
    Reasons: Banned and 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
  3. All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan KielyGustavus Library Young Adult PZ7.5.R49 A44 2015
    Reasons: Banned and 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”
  4. Speak by Laurie Halse AndersonGustavus Library Young Adult PZ7.A54385 S74 1999
    Reasons: Banned, challenged, and restricted because 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
  5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie – Gustavus Library Course Reserves 2 hours PZ7.A382 A37 2007
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references, and allegations of sexual misconduct by the author
  6. Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard, illustrated by Jennifer ZivoinGustavus Library Children’s Literature PZ1.C4647 S66 2018
    Reasons: Challenged for “divisive language” and because it was thought to promote anti-police views
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee Gustavus Library General Collection PS3562.E353 T6 2010
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for racial slurs and their negative effect on students, featuring a “white savior” character, and its perception of the Black experience
  8. Of Mice and Men by John SteinbeckGustavus Library General Collection PS3537.T3234 O352 1993
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for racial slurs and racist stereotypes, and their negative effect on students
  9. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison – Gustavus Library General Collection PS3563.O8749 B55 2007
    Reasons: Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and depicts child sexual abuse
  10. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas Gustavus Library Diversity Display PZ7.1.T448 H38 2017
    Reasons: Challenged for profanity, and it was thought to promote an anti-police message

Banned Books Week Event! Join a live streaming conversation with Banned Books Week Honorary Chair and New York Times bestselling author Jason Reynolds (All American BoysGhostLong Way DownLook Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks, and Stamped), 12:00-1:00 pm CST, September 28.

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