The American Library Association has released its annual list of the ten most challenged books, which highlights the novels and nonfiction works that parents and activist types request be removed from public libraries. While the would-be censors who challenged these books might wish they were banned or at least removed from kid’s curriculums, that’s not what the list represents. This list represents the desire of people who feel threatened by the written word and, this year, a proxy roundup of the topics parents don’t want their children to consider.
Though some of the books on this year’s list, including Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, and Alex Gino’s George, have made the list in years past, there are several newcomer titles like The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.
Most of the books included on the list actively discuss sex, self-harm, or contain pro LGBTQ themes. For example, George is a children’s novel about a young transgender girl named Melissa (though everyone calls her George) and her desire to play Charlotte in her school’s upcoming stage rendition of Charlotte’s Web. And though some parents could have taken issue with the fact that books on the list like Thirteen Reasons Why or Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian because of the fact that the authors of those books have been accused of sexual misconduct, they’re actually being critiqued for respectively discussing self-harm, being sex-positive, and using some profane language.
Other books that made the list, like Raina Telgemeier’s Drama and Jessica Herthel’s I Am Jazz, ended up there because they contain characters who are transsexual and navigating their transition or are non-binary. What’s most disheartening is the fact that what these books discuss happens in the real world. Some 90 percent of people who engage in self-harm begin during their teen or pre-adolescent years and nearly half of young people don’t believe they’re exclusively heterosexual. No wonder kids want to read these books.
Here’s the list:
- Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
- Drama by Raina Telgemeier
- The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
- George by Alex Gino
- Sex is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smyth
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
- And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, illustrated by Henry Cole
- I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas