The American Library Association (ALA) has just released its list of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books in 2017, and the public's reasons for attacking these books, many of which are aimed at children and young adults, prove that we still have a long way to go as a society. Those reasons include LGBTQIAP+ themes and sexual content, both educational and thematic.
Only two of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books in 2017 — The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and Sex Is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg — are new arrivals. Three of the books on this year's list — Drama by Raina Telgemeier, George by Alex Gino, and I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings — were also among the Top 10 Most Challenged Books in 2016, and eight of Top 10 for 2017 have ranked among the ALA's most challenged books before.
Parents and community members were opposed to four of 2017's most challenged books due to the books' inclusion of LGBTQIAP+ themes. Three were targeted for profanity, and two each for sexual content and violence. One book's discussion of suicide and another's inclusion of drug use landed them in the sights of concerned complainers. Additionally, Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner "was thought to 'lead to terrorism' and 'promote Islam.'"
The Top 10 Most Challenged Books in 2017 are:
- Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
- Drama by Raina Telgemeier
- The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
- George by Alex Gino
- Sex is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smyth
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
- And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, illustrated by Henry Cole
- I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
Contrary to what you might think, neither Thirteen Reasons Why nor The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian met with opposition because of the allegations against authors Asher and Alexie. Instead, parents and community members took issue with the books' inclusion of self-harm, profanity, and "situations that were deemed sexually explicit." However, the Little Bill series, which was among the Top 10 Most Challenged Books in 2016, drew parental ire due to the many sexual misconduct allegations against Bill Cosby, so you can probably expect to see Asher and Alexie's work on a future ALA list for similar reasons.
For more information and resources about book challenges and bans, check out the American Library Association's website.