Each year the Office of Intellectual Freedom, part of the American Library Association, provides information and publicizes events for Banned Books Week. An annual celebration of the freedom to read, each year’s observance features a list of the top ten most challenged books of the previous year.
Most often, the list has included multiple titles with sexual content. Some were fiction books deemed too explicit for the intended audience. Others were fiction or nonfiction that focused on LGBTQ+ individuals. Books that describe sexual abuse, particularly of children, have also been singled out and challenged.
This year’s list contains some similarly themed titles. But it also includes books on race and racism. Interestingly, some are cited because they are described as perpetuating racism. Others, that explore the concept of systemic racism, are identified as being divisive or too narrowly focused.
Taken together, the books on this year’s list show clearly what topics concern us. Not all of them—and maybe none of them, really—are comfortable reads. But they offer opportunities to examine our beliefs, have some hard conversations and consider the society we are building together.
For more reading on the history of censorship, check out our recent booklist on the topic.
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When sixteen-year-old Rashad is mistakenly accused of stealing, classmate Quinn witnesses his brutal beating at the hands of a police officer who happens to be the older brother of his best friend. Told through Rashad and Quinn’s alternating viewpoints. You can also check out this title as eBook on OverDrive/Libby or as eAudio on OverDrive/Libby.
After witnessing her friend’s death at the hands of a police officer, Starr Carter’s life is complicated when the police and a local drug lord try to intimidate her in an effort to learn what happened the night Kahlil died. You can also check out this title as eBook on OverDrive/Libby, as eAudio on OverDrive/Libby, as eBook on Hoopla or as eAudio on Hoopla.
After discussing the police shooting of a local Black man with their families, Emma and Josh know how to treat a new student who looks and speaks differently than his classmates. Includes an extensive Note to Parents and Caregivers that provides general guidance about addressing racism with children, child-friendly vocabulary definitions, conversation guides, and a link to additional online resources for parents and teachers. You can also check out this title as eAudio on OverDrive/Libby or as eAudio on Hoopla.