Among the findings in this year’s State of America’s Libraries report is that attempts to remove library materials continued during the pandemic, despite many libraries and schools closing or moving their activities and services online. The ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) tracks attempts to ban or restrict access to books across the United States and to inform the public about censorship efforts in our libraries and schools.
In 2020, more than 273 books were affected by censorship attempts. Demands to remove books addressing racism and racial justice or those that shared the stories of Black, Indigenous, or people of color grew in number. At the same time, books addressing themes and issues of concern for LGBTQIA+ people continued to dominate the list.
Below are the top 10 most challenged books of 2020:
1. George, by Alex Gino
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
Banned and challenged because of the 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 Kiely
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 Anderson
Banned, challenged, and restricted because it was thought to contain a political viewpoint, 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
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 Zivoin
Challenged for “divisive language” and because it was thought to promote anti-police views
7. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
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 Steinbeck
Banned and challenged for racial slurs and racist stereotypes, and their negative effect on students
9. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and depicts child sexual abuse
10. The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
Challenged for profanity, and it was thought to promote an anti-police message
Other library trends are available in the full text of the State of America’s Libraries Special Report: COVID-19.