By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, this week’s celebration of Banned Books Week once again is drawing national attention to the harms of censorship.

This year, Banned Books Week is focusing on the theme, “Censorship Leaves Us in the Dark,” urging everyone to “Keep the Light On.”

The week was created in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information.

Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

Every year, bookstores, libraries, universities, and organizations host engaging programs that spotlight censorship. This year is no exception.

The American Library Association condemns censorship and works to ensure free access to information. Its Office of Intellectual Freedom compiles lists of challenged books as reported in the media and submitted by librarians and teachers across the country. The Top 11 Challenged Books of 2018 were:

  1. George by Alex Gino
    Reasons: banned, challenged, and relocated because it was believed to encourage children to clear browser history and change their bodies using hormones, and for mentioning “dirty magazines,” describing male anatomy, “creating confusion,” and including a transgender character.
  2. A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG Keller
    Reasons: banned and challenged for including LGBTQIA+ content, and for political and religious viewpoints.
  3. Captain Underpants series written and illustrated by Dav Pilkey
    Reasons: series was challenged because it was perceived as encouraging disruptive behavior, while Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-A-Lot was challenged for including a same-sex couple.
  4. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
    Reasons: banned and challenged because it was deemed “anti-cop,” and for profanity, drug use, and sexual references.
  5. Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
    Reasons: banned and challenged for including LGBTQIA+ characters and themes.
  6. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
    Reasons: banned, challenged, and restricted for addressing teen suicide.
  7. This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
    Reasons: banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references, and certain illustrations.
  8. Skippyjon Jones series written and illustrated by Judy Schachner
    Reason: challenged for depicting stereotypes of Mexican culture.
  9. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: banned and challenged for sexual references, profanity, violence, gambling, and underage drinking, and for its religious viewpoint.
  10. This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman, illustrated by Kristyna Litten
    Reason: challenged and burned for including LGBTQIA+ content.
  11. Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
    Reason: challenged and burned for including LGBTQIA+ content.

Sometimes ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom receives information as the challenge is happening; other times OIF receives an online report years later. This affects the total number of challenges reported in any given year. Thus the Most Challenged Books list should not be viewed as an exhaustive report.