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The American Library Association (ALA) kicked off National Library Week with Right to Read Day by announcing the top 10 most challenged books of 2023.  2023 saw another unprecedented increase in book challenges and bans across the United States. In 2023 4,240 unique titles were targeted for censorship as well as 1,247 demands to censor library materials. Public Libraries across the nation saw a 92% increase in challenges from the previous year. This rise in censorship attempts threatens intellectual freedom and diversity of thought and emphasizes the importance of public libraries as critical spaces for everyone to be able to find their unique story. 

Check out these titles from DC Public Library today with your library card. Don't have one? Getting one is easy! Apply for one today at your neighborhood library or online.

 

Most Banned Books of 2023

1. "Gender Queer" by Maia Kobabe

Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe

Started as a way to explain to eir family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, 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 humans everywhere

Number of Challenges

106

Reasons for Challenge

Banned, challenged, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, and because it was considered to have sexually explicit images.

Check Out Gender Queer

2. "All Boys Aren’t Blue" by George M. Johnson

All Boys Aren't Blue by George M. Johnson

In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia

Number of Challenges

82

Reasons for Challenge

Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content, profanity, and because it was considered to be sexually explicit.

Check Out All Boys Aren't Blue

3. "This Book Is Gay" by Juno Dawson

This Book Is Gay

Lesbian. Bisexual. Queer. Transgender. Straight. Curious. This book is for everyone, regardless of gender or sexual preference. This book is for anyone who's ever dared to wonder. This book is for YOU.

There's a long-running joke that, after "coming out," a lesbian, gay guy, bisexual, or trans person should receive a membership card and instruction manual. THIS IS THAT INSTRUCTION MANUAL. You're welcome.

Inside you'll find the answers to all the questions you ever wanted to ask: from sex to politics, hooking up to stereotypes, coming out and more. This candid, funny, and uncensored exploration of sexuality and what it's like to grow up LGBT also includes real stories from people across the gender and sexual spectrums, not to mention hilarious illustrations.

You will be entertained. You will be informed. But most importantly, you will know that however you identify (or don't) and whomever you love, you are exceptional. You matter. And so does this book.

Number of Challenges

71

Reasons for Challenge

LGBTQIA+ content, providing sexual education, claimed to be sexually explicit

Check Out This Book is Gay

4. "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" by Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor. This is the story of what it's like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie's letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story, a powerful novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up.

Number of Challenges

68

Reasons for Challenge

Banned and challenged for the depiction of sexual abuse, LGBTQIA+ content, drug use, profanity and was claimed to be sexually explicit.

Check Out The Perks of Being a Wallflower

5. "Flamer" by Mike Curato

Flamer, Mike Curato

It's the summer between middle school and high school, and Aiden Navarro is away at camp. Everyone's going though changes--but for Aiden, the stakes feel higher. As he navigates friendships, deals with bullies, and spends time with Elias (a boy he can't stop thinking about), he finds himself on a path of self-discovery and acceptance. Award-winning author, artst, and Eagle Scout Mike Curato draws on his own experiences in his debut graphic novel, telling a difficult story with humor, compassion, and love.

Number of Challenges

67

Reasons for Challenge

Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and was claimed to be sexually explicit.

Check Out Flamer

6. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

It's the summer between middle school and high school, and Aiden Navarro is away at camp. Everyone's going though changes--but for Aiden, the stakes feel higher. As he navigates friendships, deals with bullies, and spends time with Elias (a boy he can't stop thinking about), he finds himself on a path of self-discovery and acceptance. Award-winning author, artst, and Eagle Scout Mike Curato draws on his own experiences in his debut graphic novel, telling a difficult story with humor, compassion, and love.

Number of Challenges

62

Reasons for Challenge

Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and was claimed to be sexually explicit.

Check Out Flamer

7/8 (tie) "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" by Jesse Andrews

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

This is the funniest book you'll ever read about death.
 
It is a universally acknowledged truth that high school sucks. But on the first day of his senior year, Greg Gaines thinks he's figured it out. The answer to the basic existential question: How is it possible to exist in a place that sucks so bad? His strategy: remain at the periphery at all times. Keep an insanely low profile. Make mediocre films with the one person who is even sort of his friend, Earl.
 
This plan works for exactly eight hours. Then Greg's mom forces him to become friends with a girl who has cancer. This brings about the destruction of Greg's entire life.
 
Fiercely funny, honest, heart-breaking--this is an unforgettable novel from a bright talent, now also a film that critics are calling "a touchstone for its generation" and "an instant classic."

Number of Challenges

48

Reasons for Challenge

Profanity, claimed to be sexually explicit

Check OutMe and Earl and the Dying Girl

7/8. (tie) "Tricks" by Ellen Hopkins

Tricks by Ellen Hopkins

Five teenagers from different parts of the country. Three girls. Two guys. Four straight. One gay. Some rich. Some poor. Some from great families. Some with no one at all. All living their lives as best they can, but all searching...for freedom, safety, community, family, love. What they don't expect, though, is all that can happen when those powerful little words "I love you" are said for all the wrong reasons. Five moving stories remain separate at first, then interweave to tell a larger, powerful story -- a story about making choices, taking leaps of faith, falling down, and growing up. A story about kids figuring out what sex and love are all about, at all costs, while asking themselves, "Can I ever feel okay about myself?" A brilliant achievement from New York Times best-selling author Ellen Hopkins -- who has been called "the bestselling living poet in the country" by mediabistro.com -- Tricks is a book that turns you on and repels you at the same time. Just like so much of life. 

Number of Challenges

56

Reasons for Challenge

Claimed to be sexually explicit, drugs, rape and LGBTQIA+ content

Check Out Tricks

9. "Let's Talk About It: The Teen's Guide to Sex, Relationships, and Being a Human" by Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan

Let's Talk About It

Growing up is complicated. How do you find the answers to all the questions you have about yourself, about your identity, and about your body? Let's Talk About It provides a comprehensive, thoughtful, well-researched graphic novel guide to everything you need to know. Covering relationships, friendships, gender, sexuality, anatomy, body image, safe sex, sexting, jealousy, rejection, sex education, and more, Let's Talk About It is the go-to handbook for every teen, and the first in graphic novel form.

Number of Challenges

55

Reasons for Challenge

Claimed to be sexually explicit, sex education, LGBTQIA+ content

Check Out Let's Talk About It

10. "Sold" by Patricia McCormick

Sold
Lakshmi is a thirteen-year-old girl who lives with her family in a small hut on a mountain in Nepal. Though she is desperately poor, her life is full of simple pleasures, like playing hopscotch with her best friend from school, and having her mother brush her hair by the light of an oil lamp. But when the harsh Himalayan monsoons wash away all that remains of the family's crops, Lakshmi's stepfather says she must leave home and take a job to support her family.

He introduces her to a glamorous stranger who tells her she will find her a job as a maid in the city. Glad to be able to help, Lakshmi journeys to India and arrives at "Happiness House" full of hope. But she soon learns the unthinkable truth: she has been sold into prostitution. An old woman named Mumtaz rules the brothel with cruelty and cunning. She tells Lakshmi that she is trapped there until she can pay off her family's debt-then cheats Lakshmi of her meager earnings so that she can never leave. Lakshmi's life becomes a nightmare from which she cannot escape. Still, she lives by her mother's words--Simply to endure is to triumph-- and gradually, she forms friendships with the other girls that enable her to survive in this terrifying new world. Then the day comes when she must make a decision: will she risk everything for a chance to reclaim her life?

Written in spare and evocative vignettes by the co-author of I Am Malala (Young Readers Edition), this powerful novel renders a world that is as unimaginable as it is real, and a girl who not only survives but triumphs.
 
Number of Challenges
53
 
Reasons for Challenge
Claimed to be sexually explicit, rape
 
Audiences: All Ages