Banned Books Are Popular at DC Public Library

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Banned Books Are Popular at DC Public Library

Customers Borrowed Books on American Library Association Challenged List More than 1,700 Times

According to the American Library Association, there were nearly 1,600 challenges to books offered at libraries and schools in 2021. To date in 2022, the top 10 most challenged books have been borrowed from the DC Public Library more than 1,700 times.

The American Library Association’s most challenged books in 2021 with the number of checkouts from the DC Public Library since January 1, 2022

  1. Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe; 136 checkouts
  2. Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison; 57 checkouts
  3. All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson; 195 checkouts
  4. Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez; 33 checkouts
  5. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas; 447 checkouts
  6. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie; 119 checkouts
  7. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews; 56 checkouts
  8. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison; 601 checkouts
  9. This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson; 39 checkouts
  10. Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin; 32 checkouts

The Library is sharing how many times a challenged book has been borrowed in the District to raise awareness for Banned Books Week amidst a growing effort by some to censor voices from historically discredited communities. 

“Book banning is a direct assault on libraries in their role as first amendment institutions,” said Richard Reyes-Gavilan, executive director of the DC Public Library. "Free and open access to information is foundational to our existence and it is therefore critical that we expose attempts at censorship whenever we encounter them."

According to the American Library Association, reasons given for challenging a book include:

  • Being sexually explicit.
  • Providing sexual education.
  • Degrading women.
  • Using derogatory terms.
  • Promoting an anti-police message.
  • Indoctrination of a social agenda.
  • LGBTQIA+ content.

Most challenged books are by or about Black or LGBTQIA+ people.

While these commonly challenged books are available at the DC Public Library, and most challenges do not result in a book being removed from a collection, this is not the reality in some communities. Across the country, libraries have been forced to remove book displays, libraries risk being defunded, librarians have been threatened and some resign rather than pull books.  

Held annually across the country, the DC Public Library will recognize “Banned Books Week” with special programs and activities from September 19 through September 24. Events include a discussion on banned books and cancel culture with Panama Jackson, award-winning writer, author and Columnist and Stephen A. Crockett Jr., Opinion Editor at HuffPost; a film screening and panel discussion of The Hate U Give with Georgetown University professor Soyica Diggs Colbert; Linda K. Harllee Harper Director of the Office of Gun Violence Prevention; Amena Johnson, Nonprofit Leader and Educator and Eric C. Peterson, Facilitator and Educator and an author talk with the honorary chair of Banned Books Week 2022, George M. Johnson.

To learn more about the Library’s plans for Banned Books Week, visit