Celebrating the Freedom to Read This July 4!

One of our most cherished rights in the U.S. is the freedom to read — but sometimes we need to remind government authorities that we have that right. Here are a few books that CBLDF has helped defend so far this year…


Stuck in the Middle, edited by Ariel Schrag

CBLDF took the lead in defending Ariel Schrag’s Stuck in the Middle, a comics anthology that was challenged in an Oklahoma school library. Per district policy, the book was pulled from Del Crest Middle School library for review after a small number of parents challenged language and adult themes in the graphic novel. CBLDF learned of the challenge due to egregiously biased news reports from local news affiliates, which misrepresented the graphic novel, contained misinformation, and included biased Amazon reviews as justification for banning the book.

Sword Art Online: Aincrad Vol 1

Sword Art Online 1: Aincrad by Reki Kawahara and abec

CBLDF took the lead in defending the manga volume Sword Art Online 1: Aincrad after it was challenged at a middle school in Jerome, Idaho. It was challenged by a Jerome Middle School teacher on behalf of a student who found both language and drawings in the book to be “inappropriate.” The images that perturbed the student were apparently “a female character wearing underwear and sharing a bed with a male character.”


Mangaman by Barry Lyga and Colleen Doran

One of the more memorable book challenges that we covered in late 2016 came when the mother of a high school student in Issaquah, Washington pushed to have the graphic novel Mangaman removed from Issaquah High School’s library due to one panel showing pixelated genitals. In February, we learned that the book was retained after passing through a review committee, public forum, and the school board.


The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Allexie’s award-winning YA novel hasn’t just been challenged once this year — it’s been challenged several times, in Thousand Oaks, CaliforniaPrairie du Sac, Wisconsin; and New London-Spicer, Minnesota. The book has been challenged for profanity and sexual content (and some people seem to think that Alexie’s frequent appearance on ALA’s annual most-challenged list justifies their attempts to ban the book). So far, most of our efforts have been successful in keeping the book in classrooms and libraries.


Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

The runaway success of Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why series has put the book on which it was based in the crosshairs at schools around the country. The Netflix show adapts Asher’s tale about teenage depression and suicide in a far less nuanced way, but school administrators have failed to recognize this in misguided attempts to ban the book even from personal, non-school-related reading. The book has been scrutinized or banned from schools in Kentucky, Florida, and Colorado

Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park was removed from classrooms in Vinton County High School in Ohio after complaints over “foul language.” A parent posted out-of-context excerpts of the book online before filing a formal complaint. The administration does not appear to have a challenge policy and responded by replacing Eleanor & Park with another novel. The book was also challenged in an Oregon school district.

The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner was abruptly removed from the curriculum of Higley Unified School District in Gilbert, Arizona. Although students in Honors English 10 have read the book for several years, administrators allege that it was never officially approved for use.

Jacob's New Dress

Jacob’s New Dress by Sarah and Ian Hoffman

Sarah and Ian Hoffman’s Jacob’s New Dress was removed from a first grade anti-bullying program in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, North Carolina. The school district reversed course on a plan to have all first graders read the picture book, which centers on a gender-nonconforming boy who wants to wear a dress to school, under pressure from North Carolina state legislators.

The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

A parent in Marshfield, Wisconsin, initially complained of “foul language and explicit and disturbing materials” in Jeannette Walls’ memoir The Glass Castle at a school board meeting, but did not file a formal challenge; instead, a board member who previously challenged a UNICEF children’s picture book filed the challenge against Walls’ book.

Help support CBLDF’s important First Amendment work in 2017 by visiting the Rewards Zonemaking a donation, or becoming a member of CBLDF!