Two Graphic Novels Among ALA’s Ten Most Challenged Books of 2015

HabibiEvery year, National Library Week starts off with a bang: the release of the American Library Association’s Top Ten List of Frequently Challenged Books from the previous year.

The list is compiled by ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom from librarians’ confidential reports of requests to restrict or ban certain books in their collections. Two graphic novels landed on the 2015 list: Fun Home by Alison Bechdel and Habibi by Craig Thompson. Fun Home is certainly no stranger to challenges–it was at the center of South Carolina legislators’ 2014 attempt to cut funding for a summer reading program at the College of Charleston–but it actually had not made the Top Ten List in previous years. One 2015 challenge that certainly contributed to its place on the list was at Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa, California, where a 20-year-old student and her parents demanded that four graphic novels including Fun Home be “eradicated from the system.” The public college stood by its graphic novel course and the professor who teaches it, and ultimately decided not to require a disclaimer about potentially offensive content on the syllabus.

On the other hand, the presence of Craig Thompson’s Habibi at #8 on the list was completely unexpected. CBLDF has not heard about any challenges to the book via news reports, but we are looking into it further. In any case, we are pleased to already be featuring Thompson’s art on our 2016 membership card and t-shirt!

Here is the complete Top Ten List of Frequently Challenged Books for 2015, along with the reported reasons they were challenged:

  1. Looking for Alaska, by John Green Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  2. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and other (“poorly written,” “concerns that a group of teenagers will want to try it”).
  3. I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings Reasons: Inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint, and unsuited for age group.
  4. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin Reasons: Anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“wants to remove from collection to ward off complaints”).
  5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon Reasons: Offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“profanity and atheism”).
  6. The Holy Bible Reasons: Religious viewpoint.
  7. Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel Reasons: Violence and other (“graphic images”).
  8. Habibi, by Craig Thompson Reasons: Nudity, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  9. Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, by Jeanette Winter Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, and violence.
  10. Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan Reasons: Homosexuality and other (“condones public displays of affection”).

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Contributing Editor Maren Williams is a reference librarian who enjoys free speech and rescue dogs.