The Top 10 Most Frequently Challenged Books in America

Posted by Hayley on September 29, 2016


It's Banned Books Week, readers! Defend the first amendment and celebrate the freedom to read by checking out a banned book. Need a suggestion? The American Library Association released its annual list of the most frequently challenged books of 2015, based on reports of complaints in schools and libraries as well as media reports.


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Looking for Alaska
by John Green

Reasons for challenge: Offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group


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Fifty Shades of Grey
by E.L. James

Reasons for challenge: Sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and other ("poorly written," "concerns that a group of teenagers will want to try it")


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I Am Jazz
by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings

Reasons for challenge: Inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint, and unsuited for age group


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Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out
by Susan Kuklin

Reasons for challenge: 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")


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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
by Mark Haddon

Reasons for challenge: Offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other ("profanity and atheism")


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Holy Bible

Reasons for challenge: Religious viewpoint


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Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
by Alison Bechdel

Reasons for challenge: Violence and other ("graphic images")


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Habibi
by Craig Thompson

Reasons for challenge: Nudity, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group


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Nasreen's Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan
by Jeanette Winter

Reasons for challenge: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, and violence


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Two Boys Kissing
by David Levithan

Reasons for challenge: Offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group



How many of the top 10 most frequently challenged books have you read? Explore more banned books on Listopia and learn about Banned Books Week here!
(Image credit: American Library Association.)

Comments Showing 1-50 of 155 (155 new)


message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

50 Shades is hardly explicit.. it's just really boring. and one-note. and bad. and boring. did I already say that?


message 2: by Lysergius (new)

Lysergius I can see that these books might be unsuitable for a 12 year old, but surely not for adults?


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Lysergius wrote: "I can see that these books might be unsuitable for a 12 year old, but surely not for adults?"

Yes.. because 50 Shades is certainly nothing explicit compared to.. Lolita.


message 4: by Voldemort (new)

Voldemort the Alpaca His Dark Materials! The Amber Spyglass. Part of it is censored in the US version.


message 5: by Abby (new)

Abby 50 Shades "unsuited to age group"? What age group? It's definitely written for adults and last I checked, adults could read whatever the hell they want.


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Abby wrote: "50 Shades "unsuited to age group"? What age group? It's definitely written for adults and last I checked, adults could read whatever the hell they want."

Bingo. Struck me as very odd.


message 7: by Elanna (last edited Sep 29, 2016 01:08PM) (new)

Elanna Is it for real? The Curious Incident of the Dog at Nighttime is CHALLENGED in America?
In Italy it was a major hit with educators, and nobody has ever found anything strange in reading it to children, moreover when one of the group has Asperger. Actually, the weakness of the book ist the fact that the main character is narrated by an adult non-Asperger, and this makes his psychology a bit fuzzy to the eyes of people who know real children with Asperger. Yet, the novel has the major merit of presenting a strong Asperger character as protagonist. I cannot really understand how America selects books as "suitable" for children. How are Mockingfeckingjay and Co. ok, if this book is "banned"? Banned by whom? From where? I am very curious.
Is there an official censorship board? And, quoting Charles and Abby, what is Fifty Shades of Snore doing here? Maybe the book is unsuitable for bored middle-aged housewives.


message 8: by Justreadin (new)

Justreadin Charles wrote: "Lysergius wrote: "I can see that these books might be unsuitable for a 12 year old, but surely not for adults?"

Yes.. because 50 Shades is certainly nothing explicit compared to.. Lolita."


that's what I was thinking the entire time.. where's Lolita on that list?


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Justreadin wrote: "Charles wrote: "Lysergius wrote: "I can see that these books might be unsuitable for a 12 year old, but surely not for adults?"

Yes.. because 50 Shades is certainly nothing explicit compared to.. ..."


That being said, Lolita is a damn good book...


message 10: by Ladiibbug (new)

Ladiibbug Elanna wrote: "Is it for real? The Curious Incident of the Dog at Nighttime is CHALLENGED in America?
In Italy it was a major hit with educators, and nobody has ever found anything strange in reading it to childr..."


I totally agree! The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was a 5 star read for me. I learned a lot about Aspergers. The narrator is a boy with Aspergers, so it was even more fascinating to read how his mind and brain processed information.

This was a rare reread for me, and a book I'll always remember as one of the best I've ever read.

To learn more, go to the blog post - in the image, at the far right, last line, it gives ALA's (American Library Assoc. I think) website. The original post gives other links re: Banned Books at the end.

My library's featured collection of banned or previously banned books included Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck.


message 11: by Nick (new)

Nick As a fan of splatterpunk and horror, this list seems really tame. Are these just books banned by people who think The Simpsons is edgy?


message 12: by Belhor (new)

Belhor Wow. These are the "banned books"!!
I can never understand why people would ever read these books.


message 13: by Jaksen (last edited Sep 29, 2016 03:21PM) (new)

Jaksen These are books that have been challenged, not banned. That means someone somewhere or a committee (or likely one parent) has complained to a school official or librarian about their inclusion in the school library, the curriculum or on a required reading list.

And in my experience as an educator, the quickest way to get a child to read something is to tell them they cannot. I had a student whose parents 'didn't approve of' the book, 'A Wrinkle in Time.' They were unable to remove it from the seventh grade English curriculum, so they refused to allow their daughter to read it. (She was issued a different book.) A short time later the girl showed me, on the sly, the book she was reading. Yep, 'A Wrinkle in Time' which she got hold of from a friend.

I was her science teacher.


message 14: by Marloes (new)

Marloes Baren This list is not a 'top 10 of all time'.
The introduction states:
"The American Library Association released its annual list of the most frequently challenged books of 2015, based on reports of complaints in schools and libraries as well as media reports."

So, no Lolita, Canterbury Tales, The Jungle, Lady Chatterly's Lover or Animal Farm, even though those would help make a much more awesome list ;)


message 15: by Adalis (new)

Adalis I'm all for reading banned books, but I'm not reading 50 Shades of Grey because it's just a crappy book.


message 16: by Aly (new)

Aly I'm really bothered that in 2016 homosexuality stills being a valide reason for banning a book


message 17: by Dave (new)

Dave Ban them all I say...then see what happens. Do this and gun control will look like a walk in the park. Why? Because the First Amendment is fundamental to everything we believe in this country. Although judging from the polls in this years Presidential Election, it seems a lot of us would rather be pack'n then read'n...just ask Sarah Palin and Donald Trump. Here is where we reach the great divide... and the beat goes on!


message 18: by Dave (new)

Dave Are challenged books anything like being electronically challenged?


message 19: by Dave (new)

Dave Here is the upshot...the challengers must be challenged.


message 20: by Dave (new)

Dave Time to reread Slaughter House Five, "...and so it goes!"


message 21: by Laura (new)

Laura Ok, I'm sorry, but this is the stupidest thing ever. I think it's hilarious that our country prides itself on "equal rights" and "freedom" and other stuff like that, yet it completely goes against it's own laws and outright bans books. I mean, honestly, we live in a more liberal state than we've ever been in, considering the gay marriage law etc. (not trying to take a specific side here or anything. Just saying), and yet they ban books that talk about it. Isn't that basically going against the gay marriage law in addition to the first amendment? Yes, I realize that this list may have been compiled prior to the passing of the law, but still. This is totally contradictory. You cannot do this and expect almost 319 million people to not notice. Really? I thought you guys were smarter than that. Maybe this just proves that you guys need to stop banning books and start reading them...


Dasha ~Made of bad materials, yet well put together~ Really? We did a literature circle on the Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-Time at my school. It wasn't even treated as controversial material at all.


message 23: by Laura (new)

Laura And another thing that I think is kind of ironic is that a some of these books are poplar. Looking for Alaska is popular (mainly because of John Green), and yet it still got on this list. If it's that popular, then why is it so controversial? This reminded me of a book I just finished, called Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. It was a very good book and is actually a nomination for 2016 book of the year. It includes sexual content, and not just like "I may have a slight indication that this happened." No. It's more like, "I know for a fact that this happened because the author includes details in which you cannot deny that this happened." And yet it's not on this list. As I said, it's on the list for 2016 book of the year. And really, you could take almost any book and find something wrong with it, no matter what genre, from what time period. I mean, Romeo and Juliet would probably make it on here because of violence, for goodness sake. To Kill a Mockingbird was on a list for racism. To Kill a Mockingbird is an all time classic, and you're going to "ban" it, even thought it's been completely ok for how many years? My apologies for this rant, but seriously people. Stop internally killing me, and stop killing some of my favorite characters. It's basically "passive murder" (which yes, I just made up.)


message 24: by [deleted user] (last edited Sep 29, 2016 07:40PM) (new)

Laura wrote: "And another thing that I think is kind of ironic is that a some of these books are poplar. Looking for Alaska is popular (mainly because of John Green), and yet it still got on this list. If it's t..."

Actually, Looking for Alaska has had problems with being banned FOR YEARS. Since it was published in 2005. For smoking, drinking, a non-explicit blowjob scene, mentions of porn, etc. I'm not surprised it's here. They changed the cover once just because the smoke on the cover would "encourage smoking." (???) Obviously, they changed it back lol

Unless Everything, Everything was reported by a parent, it's not on the list. And then there's the fact that so many YA books have sex in them these days, so you'd think it wasn't a big deal, but you never know...


message 25: by Sue (new)

Sue Bursztynski Dasha wrote: "Really? We did a literature circle on the Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-Time at my school. It wasn't even treated as controversial material at all."
In fact, it's our Year 10 English text. When I did Banned Books Week with my lunchtime school book club members a few years ago, they were startled - and shocked - to hear it was challenged/banned in the U.S.


message 26: by Sue (new)

Sue Bursztynski Go on over to the ALA site. There's a huge choice of books to do a virtual readout from. And it's fun! I've done Fahrenheit 451, To Kill. A Mockingbird, His Dark Materials(which, alas, got very few views, not sure why) on YouTube. You'll certainly find one of your favourite books on the list and then you can stick it to the challengers.


message 27: by Ashley (new)

Ashley Gillard I like that "poorly written" is a reason to ban a book.


message 28: by Mariana (new)

Mariana Some of these books look to be targeted at 5 year olds. I have a daughter that age, and I am not sure she is ready for all of the topics. I would have to read first. Oh, wait, that is the job of a parent, not a library, to decide, right? Books should be made available, and responsible adults should be able to determine what is appropriate to read per individual. Freedom of speech!


message 29: by Qing (new)

Qing Wang Getting tons of complains from schools, libraries, and media reports doesn't turn a bad book into some treasure waiting to be rediscovered. Much of the time it just proves what it intends to say, a poor-written book. Or, the divergent taste of contemporary readers.

Curiously this list reminds me of the saying of "So many books, so little time". Should people pick up books just because they are most criticized?


message 30: by Holli (new)

Holli Can we get something other than mostly homosexual\transvestite books? Everyone is turning this into a diverseathon when it is really meant to be about reading books that challenge our minds.
This is about banned books not promoting gay people.


message 31: by Holli (new)

Holli Qing wrote: "Getting tons of complains from schools, libraries, and media reports doesn't turn a bad book into some treasure waiting to be rediscovered. Much of the time it just proves what it intends to say, a..."

Exactly! This top ten list is very lame


message 32: by Holli (new)

Holli Mariana wrote: "Some of these books look to be targeted at 5 year olds. I have a daughter that age, and I am not sure she is ready for all of the topics. I would have to read first. Oh, wait, that is the job of a ..."

Yes. Our society would have us open every sexual door to a child. Every deep overly complex issue at 5 years old. They need a time to be young and carefree before dealing with the weightier concerns of life that have adults confused and frustrated. Some things should just be kept in the closet.


message 33: by Sue (new)

Sue Bursztynski Qing wrote: "Getting tons of complains from schools, libraries, and media reports doesn't turn a bad book into some treasure waiting to be rediscovered. Much of the time it just proves what it intends to say, a..."
No, but that isn't why books are usually challenged/banned. Not liking a book because you think it's garbage doesn't mean you're going to tell others they aren't allowed to read it. That's the difference. I personally thought Twilight was boring, never read past the first in the series, but I bought two sets for my school library because kids were sharing the books, sitting curled up with them out in the yard, getting excited about a book, not a TV series or a video game.

And plenty of books that *have* been considered treasures for a long time are challenged because of some individual bit that people disagree with, even if they haven't read them. Huckleberry Finn. To Kill A Mockingbird. Fahrenheit 451. The Diary Of Anne Frank.


message 34: by Holli (new)

Holli Sue wrote: "Qing wrote: "Getting tons of complains from schools, libraries, and media reports doesn't turn a bad book into some treasure waiting to be rediscovered. Much of the time it just proves what it inte..."

This list doesn't reflect that tho. We need a better list to explore options that might appeal to us. I think the list should include books that have been banned in other countries at various time periods.
I personally read a book I really enjoyed that wasn't on the list. I counted it because I grew up in a home where my father constantly ripped books out of my hand and skimmed it for anything he didn't approve of --and thess were spontaneous raids into my bedroom. I hid books. So I read what I tjought migjt have been banned when I was growing up. No sex waa in it. I waa just raised in a vsry repressive atmosphere.


message 35: by Holli (new)

Holli Abby wrote: "50 Shades "unsuited to age group"? What age group? It's definitely written for adults and last I checked, adults could read whatever the hell they want."

Abby wrote: "50 Shades "unsuited to age group"? What age group? It's definitely written for adults and last I checked, adults could read whatever the hell they want."
In schools silly.


message 36: by Sue (new)

Sue Bursztynski Holli wrote: "Sue wrote: "Qing wrote: "Getting tons of complains from schools, libraries, and media reports doesn't turn a bad book into some treasure waiting to be rediscovered. Much of the time it just proves ..."
Sorry to hear that, Holli. Which book was that? If you have a look at the ALA web site, I bet you'll find that book you mention somewhere on the list of well over 100. Why not do a virtual readout this week?


message 37: by Holli (new)

Holli Born Wicked. What is a virtual readout?


message 38: by Sue (new)

Sue Bursztynski It's something you do on YouTube during Banned Books Week. You choose a favourite passage from a book on the most challenged/banned list which you'll find on the ALA web site and read about two minutes of it on YouTube. Google Banned Books Week - the instructions will be there. It's fun! Or check the virtual readouts other people have done. I've done about three, and one year I got my students to record their favourite banned book extracts. I couldn't put them on line for legal reasons(they could do their own, of course) but I made some DVDs for them and the school library.


message 39: by Holli (new)

Holli Ok. Thanks!


message 40: by DavidSG (new)

DavidSG I have read the Bible. Nothing provocative there. Unless you want to live a life with no rules.


message 41: by Dani (new)

Dani Charles wrote: "Lysergius wrote: "I can see that these books might be unsuitable for a 12 year old, but surely not for adults?"

Yes.. because 50 Shades is certainly nothing explicit compared to.. Lolita."


Who wrote Lolita?? I want to look into reading it.


message 42: by Sue (new)

Sue Bursztynski Dani wrote: "Charles wrote: "Lysergius wrote: "I can see that these books might be unsuitable for a 12 year old, but surely not for adults?"

Yes.. because 50 Shades is certainly nothing explicit compared to.. ..."


Nabokov.


message 43: by Sue (new)

Sue Bursztynski DavidSG wrote: "I have read the Bible. Nothing provocative there. Unless you want to live a life with no rules." Oh, I don't know. All that sex and violence. Of course, that's why I love the Bible. ;-)


message 44: by Dani (new)

Dani Sue wrote: "Dani wrote: "Charles wrote: "Lysergius wrote: "I can see that these books might be unsuitable for a 12 year old, but surely not for adults?"

Yes.. because 50 Shades is certainly nothing explicit c..."


Thanks


message 45: by Nichell (last edited Sep 30, 2016 06:20AM) (new)

Nichell Dani wrote: "Sue wrote: "Dani wrote: "Charles wrote: "Lysergius wrote: "I can see that these books might be unsuitable for a 12 year old, but surely not for adults?"

Yes.. because 50 Shades is certainly nothin..."


Charles wrote: "Lysergius wrote: "I can see that these books might be unsuitable for a 12 year old, but surely not for adults?"

Yes.. because 50 Shades is certainly nothing explicit compared to.. Lolita."


I agree, the books should not be read by a 12 year old, but how is 50 Shades on the banned list? Lolita should be on the list although it was a great read. Not sure who is making this list


message 46: by Isabella (new)

Isabella The fact that books are banned in the first place makes me sad. What happened to freedom of speech?
Not to seem pretentious or anything.


message 47: by Lixandru (new)

Lixandru I've only read three of them! :o


message 48: by Keiry (new)

Keiry Ko Ashley wrote: "I like that "poorly written" is a reason to ban a book."

I agree with you!


message 49: by Andrea (new)

Andrea  Greene Myers Banning books is stupid in a country that has freedom of speech. That's all. For a parent to "ban" a book from a child, that's understandable and responsible parenting. But banning from adults issues like sexuality, explicit language, religious viewpoints, and violence?? Please.


message 50: by Felicia (new)

Felicia Amorphous wrote: "His Dark Materials! The Amber Spyglass. Part of it is censored in the US version."

What, really? Which part? (Is it the thing about wanting to attack God?)


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