Jillian and Mariko Tamaki’s award-winning graphic novel This One Summer sits at the top of the American Library Association’s list of the most challenged books in 2016. Other comics in the top ten are Drama by Raina Telgemeier and Big Hard Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky.
Here’s ALA’s complete list of the ten most challenged books in 2016:
- This One Summer written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
This young adult graphic novel, winner of both a Printz and a Caldecott Honor Award, was restricted, relocated, and banned because it includes LGBT characters, drug use, and profanity, and it was considered sexually explicit with mature themes.
- Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
Parents, librarians, and administrators banned this Stonewall Honor Award-winning graphic novel for young adults because it includes LGBT characters, was deemed sexually explicit, and was considered to have an offensive political viewpoint.
- George written by Alex Gino
Despite winning a Stonewall Award and a Lambda Literary Award, administrators removed this children’s novel because it includes a transgender child, and the “sexuality was not appropriate at elementary levels.”
- I Am Jazz written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
This children’s picture book memoir was challenged and removed because it portrays a transgender child and because of language, sex education, and offensive viewpoints.
- Two Boys Kissing written by David Levithan
Included on the National Book Award longlist and designated a Stonewall Honor Book, this young adult novel was challenged because its cover has an image of two boys kissing, and it was considered to include sexually explicit LGBT content.
- Looking for Alaska written by John Green
This 2006 Printz Award winner is a young adult novel that was challenged and restricted for a sexually explicit scene that may lead a student to “sexual experimentation.”
- Big Hard Sex Criminals written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by Chip Zdarsky
Considered to be sexually explicit by library staff and administrators, this compilation of adult comic books by two prolific award-winning artists was banned and challenged.
- Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread written by Chuck Palahniuk
This collection of adult short stories, which received positive reviews from Newsweek and the New York Times, was challenged for profanity, sexual explicitness, and being “disgusting and all around offensive.”
- Little Bill (series) written by Bill Cosby and illustrated by Varnette P. Honeywood
This children’s book series was challenged because of criminal sexual allegations against the author.
- Eleanor & Park written by Rainbow Rowell
One of seven New York Times Notable Children’s Books and a Printz Honor recipient, this young adult novel was challenged for offensive language.
The list is compiled each year by ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom based on reports from librarians and media coverage of challenges and bans. In 2016, ALA recorded 323 challenges.
Since winning the Caldecott Honor in 2014, This One Summer has become one of the graphic novels that CBLDF has had to defend most frequently. In 2016, the book was removed from a K-12 library in Henning, Minnesota. CBLDF found out about the removal after the fact, and we led a coalition in defending the book, which was restored, albeit with the unsatisfactory decision that it could only be accessed by students in grades 10-12 and only if they have parental permission.
- Henning School Board Restores This One Summer to Library, with Restrictions
- CBLDF Joins Defense of This One Summer in MN School
- This One Summer Banned in Minnesota School
This One Summer was also subject to a heavily biased media attack in Seminole County, Florida. It was initially removed from county elementary schools, but the district took the censorship one step further and reviewed the book in area high schools without a formal challenge. CBLDF led the defense of the book once again, ensuring the book was retained in the high schools without restriction.
- VICTORY in Florida: This One Summer Unrestricted in Seminole County High Schools
- CBLDF Leads Fight for This One Summer in Seminole County High Schools
- This One Summer Now Challenged in Seminole County High Schools
- This One Summer Removed from Seminole County Elementary Schools
Raina Telgemeier’s Drama is “enjoying” its second year on ALA’s top ten list. The highly acclaimed bestselling book is most likely on ALA’s list because it was removed from a Texas junior high school for being “politically, racially, or socially offensive.” We learned of the removal via the Texas ACLU’s annual report on challenges and bans in the state. Notably, the ban that landed Drama on last year’s list also happened in Texas.
We’re still digging into the challenges to Sex Criminals, but the series, which is acclaimed for its dissection of sexual taboo and frank (and frequently comedic) examination of sexuality, has run into issues before. In 2013, the second issue of the series was banned from comiXology’s iOS app due to Apple’s content policies.
CBLDF has developed the following resources for Drama and This One Summer:
- Using Graphic Novels in Education: This One Summer
- Adding This One Summer to Your Library or Classroom Collection
As the list indicates, comics continue to be a frequent targets for censors. If you run into a First Amendment issue, need advice on adding or defending comics, or need help, call CBLDF at 1-800-99-CBLDF or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.