The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (ALA OIF) released their annual list of most frequently challenged and banned books of 2019 and once again Raina Telgemeier’s graphic novel Drama is included in the Top 10. This is Drama’s fifth year as one of the most challenged and banned books in the country, with complaints citing LGBTQ+ content and “concerns it goes against family values/morals.” This data is based on 377 challenges to materials in libraries, schools, and universities that were reported to ALA OIF, who estimate a total of 566 books and comics were targeted in 2019.
Also announced today was the theme for 2020’s Banned Books Week, September 27 – October 3, 2020 – “Censorship is a Dead End.” Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is a proud member of the Banned Books Week Coalition, the group behind the annual celebration designed to draw attention to the ongoing censorship that books and comics face each year. “Censorship is a Dead End” allows publishers, libraries, creators, and retailers to customize their own tools and resources showing the wide world of literature that censorship would otherwise cut off. Since BBWC was founded in 1982, they have strived to show a path past censorship by organizing events and producing resources to assist educators and librarians, all while fostering an environment of open dialogue that centers around one week each September. Read the full press release below:
BANNED BOOKS WEEK 2020: CENSORSHIP IS A DEAD END
Banned Books Week 2020: Censorship is a Dead End
Find Your Freedom to Read During Annual Celebration of Right to Read
New York City, New York, April 20, 2020 — In turbulent times, books are tools that help people navigate the world around them. Intellectual freedom and access to information uplifts people in crisis and during more peaceful times, so the Banned Books Week Coalition invites you to champion the right to read during Banned Books Week, September 27 – October 3, 2020!
Join the Banned Books Week Coalition at 1:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 22, for a special Facebook Live conversation about the 2020 theme and censorship with Laurie Halse Anderson (author of the frequently challenged novel Speak) and an exclusive statement from David Levithan (author of the challenged novel Two Boys Kissing)! https://www.facebook.com/bannedbooksweek/
Since it was founded in 1982, Banned Books Week has helped people recognize and navigate censorship, and the battle for free expression is unending. Reading brings people together, but censorship drives us apart. The theme of this year’s event, “Censorship Is a Dead End,” is a reminder that we need to fight censorship to “Find Our Freedom to Read.” This year’s celebration embraces a maze motif, an attainable and customizable idea that offers publishers, booksellers, librarians, educators, journalists, and others an opportunity to engage with their communities in a variety of ways, from passive programing to big events.
In recognition of National Library Week (April 19 – 25, 2020), the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom released their list of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2019. This list highlights the ways in which curtailing reading materials makes the world smaller. In 2019, ALA tracked nearly 377 attempts to censor library, school, and university materials and services, encompassing 566 books that were challenged or banned. The list includes books that can help readers, especially young people, navigate tough situations, such as George, Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, and Sex is a Funny Word among others.
“Books can help young people, and readers of all ages, explore worlds, lives and experiences beyond their own,” says Nora Pelizzari, director of communications for the National Coalition Against Censorship. “This exploration is crucial in learning to think critically and independently and to navigate ourselves through life. Limiting access to ideas hurts everyone, and particularly students. Banned Books Week gives us a chance to champion the diverse ideas books let us explore.”
Libraries and schools aren’t the only institutions impacted by censorship, and Banned Books Week is an opportunity for many to engage their communities in a conversation about attempts to stifle creativity.
According to David Grogan, director for American Booksellers for Free Expression, the bookseller’s voice for free expression, “Banned Books Week is one of the most important events of the year for independent booksellers. It provides booksellers a crucial opportunity to promote conversations about controversial books. Customers are often surprised to hear that book banning still continues to this day, and Banned Books Week is a tremendous way to highlight the importance of the freedom to read.”
Find your freedom to read during Banned Books Week, September 27 – October 3, 2020! The Banned Books Week Coalition is here to support your celebration of reading, with programming ideas, promotional materials, and other resources! Visit https://bannedbooksweek.org/ or follow @BannedBooksWeek on Twitter to get the latest Banned Books Week and censorship news.
Learn more about the Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2019 at
and the issues facing America’s libraries at
ABOUT THE BANNED BOOKS WEEK COALITION
The Banned Books Week Coalition is an international alliance of diverse organizations joined by a commitment to increase awareness of the annual celebration of the freedom to read. The Coalition seeks to engage various communities and inspire participation in Banned Books Week through education, advocacy, and the creation of programming about the problem of book censorship.
The Banned Books Week Coalition includes American Booksellers Association; American Library Association; American Society of Journalists and Authors; Association of University Presses; Authors Guild; Comic Book Legal Defense Fund; Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE); Freedom to Read Foundation; Index on Censorship; National Coalition Against Censorship; National Council of Teachers of English; PEN America; People For the American Way Foundation; and Project Censored. It is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. Banned Books Week also receives generous support from DKT Liberty Project and Penguin Random House.
challenged, banned, restricted, and hidden to avoid controversy for: transgender character, because schools and libraries should not “put books in a child’s hand that require discussion”; for sexual references; and for conflicting with a religious viewpoint and “traditional family structure”
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.
CBLDF Fights for LGBTQ+ Kids Books Under Attack
George, I Am Jazz, Lily & Dunkin Will Remain With Kids’ Books
Author Uninvited to School After Recommending George
Alex Gino Donates Copies George After Witchita Declines to Shelve it
Group Boycotts Scholastic Books Over George
- Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out
by Susan Kuklin
Challenged for: LGBTQIA+ content, for “its effect on any young people who would read it,” and for concerns that it was sexually explicit and biased
A collection of real stories and photographs about the lives of six transgender youths in America.
- A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo
Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG Keller
Challenged and Vandalized for: LGBTQIA content, political and religious viewpoints
Marlon Bundo, the First Bunny of the United States, meets a handsome bespectacled bunny named Wesley, and they decide to get married. A local stink bug says they can’t get married because he’s in charge, and he believes being different is bad and wrong. Together with their friends, they’ll discover that they have the power to decide who’s in charge, and that being different is what makes everyone special.
John Oliver’s Bunny Book Triggers Teacher Investigation
Minimal Fallout for Teacher Who Read Gay Bunny Book
- Sex is a Funny Word
Corey Silverberg and Fiona Smyth
Challenged, Banned, and Relocated for: LGBTQ+ content; for discussing gender identity and sex education; and for concerns that the title and illustrations were “inappropriate”
An illustrated book that utilizes diverse characters and a range of family dynamics to teach children about their bodies, gender, and masturbation. While the text doesn’t discuss 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
- Prince & Knight by Daniel Haack, illustrated by Stevie Lewis Challenged and Restricted for: Featuring a gay marriage and LGBTQIA+ content; for being “a deliberate attempt to indoctrinate young children” with the potential to cause confusion, curiosity, and gender dysphoria; and for conflicting with a religious viewpoint. An illustrated fairy tale about a handsome Prince whose parents want him to get married, but no one interests him until a Knight in shining armor appears.
Prince & Knight Removed from West Virginia Library
VA School Board Retains 2 LGBTQ+ Books
- I Am Jazz
Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, Shelagh McNicholas
Challenged and Relocated for: LGBTQ+ content, for a transgender character, and for confronting a topic that is “sensitive, controversial, and politically charged”
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.
CBLDF Fights for LGBTQ+ Kids Books Under Attack
George, I Am Jazz, Lily & Dunkin Will Remain With Kids’ Books
CA Parents Protest Kindergarten Reading Book Aloud
CBLDF Joins Coalition in Support of I Am Jazz
- The Handmaid’s Tale
by Margaret Atwood
Challenged and Banned for: profanity and for “vulgarity and sexual overtones” In this dystopian future, environmental disasters and declining birthrates have led to a Second American Civil War. The result is the rise of the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian regime that enforces rigid social roles and enslaves the few remaining fertile women.
Adding The Handmaid’s Tale Graphic Novel to Your Library or Classroom Collection
Pennsylvania School District Retains Handmaid’s Tale on Summer Reading ListThe Handmaid’s Tale Under Attack in Oregon SchoolPennsylvania School Board Rescinds Ban of The Handmaid’s Tale
Challenged: 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
- Harry Potter series
by J. K. Rowling
Banned and Forbidden from discussion for: referring to magic and witchcraft, for containing actual curses and spells, and for characters that use “nefarious means” to attain goals A seven books series focused on a bespectacled orphan wizard and the journey he and his friends take through the horrors of fighting tyranny and adolescence.
Exorcists Tell Pastor to Ban Harry Potter in Nashville
Tennessee Introduces Book Banning Bills
- 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