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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