The top 11 most often banned books of 2018 reveal what kinds of ideas our culture wants to censor — and what audiences are the most likely to be limited because of censorship. All of the books on this list were catered toward young people, and many were censored for containing themes of LGBT+ acceptance. During Banned Books Week we celebrate our ability to consume a diversity of narratives, at all stages of life.
When people look at George, the protagonist of Alex Gino’s George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl. George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part . . . because she’s a boy. George was 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.
Jill Twiss & EG Keller┃A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo
Written as a spoof by John Oliver, A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo tells the story of Marlon Bundo, a lonely bunny who lives with his Grampa, Mike Pence – the Vice President of the United States. Marlon goes on to marry another male bunny, despite the objections of a stink bug that notably resembles Vice President Mike Pence. A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo banned and challenged for including LGBT+ content, and for including political and religious viewpoint.
Dav Pilkey┃Captain Underpants (series)
The Captain Underpants tells the story of two fourth-graders, George Beard and Harold Hutchins, and Captain Underpants, an aptly named superhero from one of the boys’ homemade comic books, who accidentally becomes real when George and Harold hypnotize their ill-tempered principal, Mr. Krupp. Captain Underpants books were challenged because they were perceived as encouraging disruptive behaviour, while Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-A-Lot (book 12 of the series) was challenged for including a same-sex couple.
Angie Thomas┃The Hate U Give
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter navigates between the poverty-stricken neighbourhood she has grown up in and the upper-crust suburban prep school she attends. Her life is up-ended when she is the sole witness to a police officer shooting her best friend, Khalil, who turns out to have been unarmed during the confrontation – but may or may not have been a drug dealer. As Starr finds herself even more torn between the two vastly different worlds she inhabits, she also has to contend with speaking her truth and, in the process, trying to stay alive herself. The Hate U Give was banned and challenged because it was deemed “anti-cop,” and for profanity, drug use, and
Callie loves theatre. And while she would totally try out for her middle school’s production of Moon Over Mississippi, she’s a terrible singer. Instead she’s the set designer for the stage crew, and this year she’s determined to create a set worthy of Broadway on a middle-school budget. But how can she, when she doesn’t know much about carpentry, ticket sales are down, and the crew members are having trouble working together? Not to mention the onstage AND offstage drama that occurs once the actors are chosen. Drama was banned and challenged for including LGBT+ characters and themes.
Jay Asher┃Thirteen Reasons Why
Clay Jensen comes home from school to find outside his front door a mysterious box with his name on it. Inside he discovers a series of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker – his classmate and crush. Only, she committed suicide two weeks earlier. On the first tape, Hannah explains that there are 13 reasons why she did what she did – and Clay is one of them. If he listens, Clay will find out how he got onto the list – what he hears will change his life forever. Thirteen Reasons Why was banned, challenged, and restricted for addressing teen suicide, and recieved criticism for romanticizing mental illness.
Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki┃This One Summer
Every summer, Rose goes with her mum and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It’s their getaway, their refuge. Rosie’s friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose’s mum and dad won’t stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. It’s a summer of secrets and sorrow and growing up, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other. This One Summer was banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references, and certain illustrations, as well as dealing with abortion.
Judy Schachner┃Skippyjon Jones (series)
Skippyjon Jones is no ordinary kitten. Oh, no. . . .He’s actually a great sword-fighter ready to battle banditos the world over! With a little imagination and a whole lot of fun, this frisky cat dons a mask and cape and takes on the bad guys to save the day. Skippyjon Jones was challenged for depicting stereotypes of Mexican culture and mocking a falsified version of the Spanish language.
Sherman Alexie┃The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist who leaves his school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white high school. This heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written tale, featuring poignant drawings that reflect the character’s art, is based on the author’s own experiences. The book was banned and challenged for sexual references, profanity, violence, gambling, and underage drinking, and for its religious viewpoint.
Gayle E. Pitman & Kristyna Litten┃This Day in June
In a wildly whimsical, validating, and exuberant reflection of the LGBT community, This Day In June welcomes readers to experience a pride celebration and share in a day when we are all united. The book was challenged and burned for including and celebrating LGBT+ content.
David Levithan┃Two Boys Kissing
Following young couples Craig and Harry, Peter and Neil, Avery and Ryan, and single boy Cooper, Two Boys Kissing tells the stories of these boys, their friends and families evaluate the changing nature of feelings, behaviour and this crazy thing called love under the watchful eyes of a Greek chorus of a generation of men lost to AIDS. Two Boys Kissing was challenged and burned for including LGBT+ content.