This week is Banned Books Week. It was started in 1989 by First Amendment Activist and librarian activist Judith Krug in response to a wave of books that were being banned, limited, and restricted nationwide. These bannings and challenges happen everywhere from K-12 libraries to public libraries to prisons. In 2021, more books have been banned than every before, with a focus on books that focus on race and/or LGBTQ issues. To find out more information, visit bannedbooksweek.org. Below are 7 banned books and reasons given for their bannings.
An autobiographical comic about the journey of self-identity, Gender Queer is more than a personal story: It is a useful and touching guide on gender identity—what it means and how to think about it—for advocates, friends, and everyone.
In 2021, this was the most banned book in the United States. It was banned due to LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to have sexually explicit images.
In her debut short story collection, Carmen Maria Machado pulls together science fiction, comedy, horror, and fantasy to tell vivid short stories about complex women. It won the Shirley Jackson Award award and was a finalist for the National Book Award.
In 2019, the Missouri Department of Corrections denied an incarcerated woman access to this collection of short stories because it “contains inappropriate sexual behaviors, sexually explicit materials & pictures.” The book is a collection of short stories and features no images.
Fun Home is a graphic novel about the relationship between Alison Bechdel and her father Bruce Bechel as Alison Bechdel discovers her sexuality. Since its release, Fun Home has been a large success and was turned into a musical in 2013. The musical went on to win multiple Tony Awards.
The book has been challenged dozens of times since its release, most recently in 2022 it has been challenged and banned in multiple school districts over being “too graphic.”
A YA memoir-manifesto about growing up Black and queer in America, the author George M. Johnson explores their childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. Since its release, it’s been a best seller.
In 2021, it was one of the top 10 books banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content, profanity, and because it was considered to be sexually explicit.
Persepolis is a graphic novel detailing the story of Satrapi’s childhood and coming of age with her family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution. It’s the story of a girlhood and adolescence entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials and joys of growing up. It’s been highly awarded and is one of the most influential graphic novels in the 21st century.
In 2014, the book was the 2nd most banned book across the nation, with cited reasons being “coarse language” and the fact that the book has an Islamic protagonist.
A young adult novel about a black teenage girl processing the police shooting of her childhood friend, the Hate You Give has been near-universally acclaimed since its release. It was turned into a movie in 2018 starring Amandla Steinburg, who writes the forward for this edition of the book.
It has been on the top 10 most challenged books every year starting in 2017. It has been challenged for profanity and violence and because it was thought to promote an anti-police message and indoctrination of a social agenda.
Toni Morrison’s debut novel, the Bluest Eye has gone on to be a classic that is taught in many institutions due to her skill in writing and handling of difficult subjects pertaining to black girlhood.
It has been banned dozens of times over multiple decades for reasons because it depicts child sexual abuse and is considered sexually explicit