For the third time, Raina Telgemeier’s YA classic Drama has been named to the American Library Association’s Most Banned Books list. This week, ALA released their top ten list of most frequently challenged books in 2017. Once again, the list is disproportionately filled with illustrated works. As a partner in the Kids’ Right to Read Project, CBLDF has worked to assist librarians who faced challenges to many of the titles on this year’s list. Below we share this year’s Top 10. Beneath each title is the reason it was challenged, a brief description, and links to articles showing cases around the country.
- Thirteen Reasons Why
Challenged and Banned for: mentions of suicide
Clay Jensen returns home to find a package from Hannah, a classmate who killed herself. Inside are cassette tapes Hannah recorded explaining there are 13 reasons why she took her own life, and Clay is one of them. She promises if he listens all the way through he’ll understand why.
Kentucky Middle School Pulls 13 Reasons From Curriculum
13 Reasons Why Author Cites Reader Experiences in Censorship Battle
CBLDF Defends Thirteen Reasons Why in Florida
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Ellen Forney
Challenged for: profanity, masturbation
The story of a young boy growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation who wants to be a cartoonist so he leaves his school on the Rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the mascot. Based on the authors own life.
CBLDF Defends Part-Time Indian in Illinois
Michigan Parents Petition Against Part-Time Indian
Challenged and Banned for: LGBT characters
When Callie’s love of theater doesn’t match her singing ability, she decides to join the tech department. A charming graphic novel about the trials and tribulations of relationships and theater in middle school.
Banned Books Case Study: Drama
Using Graphic Novels in Education: Drama
Adding Drama to Your Classroom Library
- The Kite Runner
Challenged and Banned for: sexual violence, promoting Islam
The story of an unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant. The tale of friendship, betrayal, and the relationships between father’s and sons was #1 New York Times Bestseller and a worldwide sensation.
Board Member Wants Kite Runner Pulled From AP Class
Challenged and Banned for: transgender character
George knows in her heart she is a girl, but the world interacts with her as a boy. When her teacher announces they will be performing Charlotte’s Web as the school play, George knows that it is the best time to show her family and the world what she already knows in her heart.
Author Uninvited to School After Recommending George
Alex Gino Donates Copies George After Witchita Declines to Shelve it
Group Boycotts Scholastic Books Over George
- Sex is a Funny Word
Corey Silverberg and Fiona Smyth
Challenged for: sex education, promotes sex and questions about sex
A comic book that utilizes diverse characters and a range of family dynamics to teach children about their bodies, gender, masturbation. While the text doesn’t discussion intercourse, it does open up a dialogue between children and parents about love, trust and respect that lays the groundwork for parents to communicate openly and honestly about these difficult topics.
Censorship Attempts in Missouri Schools and Libraries
Comics Shine at 2016 ALA Youth Media Awards
- To Kill a Mockingbird
Challenged and Banned for: violence, racial slurs
An American classic that has been the target of controversy and challenges for nearly sixty years. The coming of age novel deals with racial inequality in the Deep South, and while it is set during the Great Depression, its themes have consistently found relevance in modern society.
Wisconsin Stands By Mockingbird
Duluth Removes Huck Finn & To Kill a Mockingbird Over Slurs
Mockingbird Returns (with Strings Attached)
- The Hate U Give
Challenged and Banned for: drug use, profanity
Based on the Black Lives Matter movement, the coming of age novel focuses on 16 year old Starr Carter as she is drawn to activism following the police shooting of her childhood friend.
Missouri Lawmaker Pressures School to Pull The Hate U Give
The Hate U Give Restored in Texas High School Libraries with Restrictions
The Books We Hate – Moms Bookclub for Controversial Titles
- And Tango Makes Three
Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell, and Henry Cole
Challenged for: gay penguins
The picture book tells the story of Roy and Silo, two male penguins who, with the help of a zookeeper, welcome a female baby penguin to their family. The story is based on a true story of penguins at the New York Central Park Zoo.
Charter School Cancels Gay Penguin Play
21 Must Read LGBTQIA+ Picture Book
- I Am Jazz
Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, Shelagh McNicholas
Challenged for: transgender character
Beautifully illustrated and straightforward, I Am Jazz is the autobiography of a transgender child whose family is confused by her feminine interests until they go to see a doctor who explains that Jazz is transgender. An important text for talking about gender with young children.
CA Parents Protest Kindergarten Reading Book Aloud
CBLDF Joins Coalition in Support of I Am Jazz
While this year’s list has fewer comics and graphic novels than the three named to the 2016 list, this year shows increasingly frequent challenges to children’s books written to help young people navigate the world that they live in. The challenges find as much fault with representing reality accurately as they do with the work. CBLDF remains committed to fight on behalf of the students’ and their right to read – because the First Amendment can only be fully protected with unfettered access to literature.