Banned Books Week began in 1982 due to an increase in challenges to books in schools, libraries, and bookstores. The American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) creates a list of challenged books across the country.
A challenge, as defined by the ALA website, is “an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group.” A banning is the removal of those materials. The website goes on to say that challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view but are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting access to others.

Banned Books Week normally is observed during the last week of September and it showcases 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,” states

This year’s theme is “Censorship is a dead end. Find your freedom to read!” Here are the Top 10 Challenged Books of 2019:

1. George by Alex Gino. This book is challenged, banned, restricted, and hidden to avoid controversy; for LGBTQIA+ content and a transgender character; because schools and libraries should not “put books in a child’s hand that require discussion”; for sexual references; and for conflicting with a religious viewpoint and “traditional family structure.”

2. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin. The reason this book is challenged is for LGBTQIA+ content and for “its effect on any young people who would read it.” There are also concerns that it was sexually explicit and biased.

3. A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG Keller. This one is challenged and vandalized for its LGBTQIA+ content and political viewpoints and for its “designed to pollute the morals of its readers.” Another reason is that the book did not include a content warning.

4. Sex is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smyth. This is challenged, banned, and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content; for discussing gender identity and sex education; and for concerns that the title and illustrations were “inappropriate.”

5. Prince & Knight by Daniel Haack, illustrated by Stevie Lewis. Reasons for this book being challenged include featuring a gay marriage and LGBTQIA+ content; for being a “deliberate attempt to indoctrinate young children” with the potential to cause confusion, curiosity, and gender dysphoria; and for conflicting with a religious viewpoint.

6. I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas. This book is challenged and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content, includes a transgender character, and for confronting a topic that is “sensitive, controversial, and politically charged.”

7. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. This book is banned and challenged for profanity and for “vulgarity and sexual overtones.”

8. Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier. This book is challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and for concerns that it went against “family values/morals.”

9. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. This series of books are banned and forbidden from discussion for referring to magic and witchcraft, containing actual curses and spells, and for characters that use “nefarious means” to attain goals.

10. And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson illustrated by Henry Cole. This book is challenged and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content.

Other books that have been listed in the past include: Captain Underpants series written and illustrated by Dav Pilkey; The Kite Runner written by Khaled Hosseini; To Kill a Mockingbird written by Harper Lee; Fifty Shades of Grey written by E.L. James; The Holy Bible; and His Dark Materials written by Philip Pullman.

For more information about Banned Books Week visit and for more information about the ALA, visit

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