Our colleagues at the American Library Association (ALA) this week released their annual list of the ten most challenged books for the year of 2016. The list is compiled using the 323 book challenges the ALA received in the past year. The books that made the list were fairly easy to predict, with several featuring in previous lists and in NCAC's work, but there is one new, suprising, entry.
Books containing LGBT themes dominate the list, demonstrating that despite recent victories for gay rights, books that discuss sexuality and gender issues remain controversial.
Atop the list is Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki’s This One Summer, a Caldecott-winning graphic novel that is frequently banned for its allegedly “sexually explicit” content, LGBT characters, and depictions of drug use. NCAC successfully defended the novel in a Florida school district in February 2016.
The second through fifth-most challenged books also deal with LGBT issues:
- Raina Telgemier’s Drama, winner of the Stonewall Award, has been censored because of its inclusion of LGBT characters.
- Alex Gino’s George, another Stonewall Award-winner, is frequently challenged because it is about a transgender child.
- I Am Jazz, the autobiography of a transgender child, remains high on the list. NCAC defended it in December 2015, among other occasions.
- Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan, yet another Stonewall-winner, has created controversy because its cover shows two boys kissing.
For more information about LGBTQ literature and how teachers and educators should repond to book challenged of this nature, check out our LGBTQ Right to Read resource guide.
Other notable books on the list include John Green’s Looking for Alaska, a Printz Award winner that is generally challenged because of an oral sex scene, and Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell, whcih has been challenged for numerous reasons, including foul language and allegedly explicit content.
NCAC has defended these popular novels on numerous occasions. Looking for Alaska was most recently defended in Kentucky in May 2016, and NCAC has repeatedly defended Eleanor and Park, most recently in March 2017, and honored Ms. Rowell as a Free Speech Defender at its 2016 annual gala.
Perhaps the most suprising entry on the top ten list was, in fact, not challenged for content-based reasons. Complainants have tried to censor the Little Bill series by Bill Cosby due to allegations of sexual assault and rape against its author.
Read the list and the rest of the ALA's report here.