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  • Writer's pictureWyatt Underwood

The Most Banned and Challenged Books of the Past 5 Years

Ever wonder why so many people try to pull certain books from library and school shelves? We’ve complied a banned books list and reasons why parents believe these books should be removed, from the reasonable to the ridiculous. Check out which books Americans have had a problem with in 2017, in the past five years, and beyond and why!

What Is the Most Banned Book in America?

For all time, the most frequently banned book is 1984 by George Orwell. (How very Orwellian!)

The most banned and challenged book for 2017 was Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.

What Are the Top 10 Banned Books in America of All Time?

Out of the many books that have been banned, many of them are considered to be classics and even incorporated into the required reading for classes.

Here are the top 10 most challenged books of all time:

  1. 1984 by George Orwell

  2. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

  3. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

  4. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

  5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

  6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

  7. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

  8. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

  9. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

  10. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Which Books Are the Most Banned in the U.S. Today?

There were 416 books challenged or banned during 2017, and Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher was the most frequently challenged due to its subject matter, dealing with suicide. The 2018 banned books list is not yet available.

Here is the top 10 list of banned books in the U.S. in 2017:

  1. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

  3. Drama by Raina Telgemeier

  4. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

  5. George by Alex Gino

  6. Sex Is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg

  7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

  8. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

  9. And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson

  10. I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings

Why Are Books Banned?

Usually, it’s the result of parents and community insistence. The most common reasons why books are banned in the U.S. are racial issues, sexual content or education, encouragement of “damaging” lifestyles, violence, presence of witchcraft or paganism, and religious affiliations. Surveys show that between 82% and 97% of book challenges (documented requests to remove materials from schools or libraries) receive no media attention, so it is difficult to capture the full scope of the issue. In recent times, if you look at the list of banned books and reasons why they were challenged, you’ll see a pattern of LGBTQ+ themes frequently being attacked.

The most challenged or banned books between 2000-09 were the Harry Potter books, the Alice series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, and The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier.

In the 20 years since J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series took the world by storm, it has faced many attempts to limit, ban, and even burn the books. It was the most frequently challenged book series in the U.S. for 1999 and earned the 48th slot on the 1990-1999 banned books list.

When Is Banned Books Week?

Banned Books Week takes place during the last week of September.

The ALA Banned Books Week has been during the last week of September since 1982. It is an annual awareness campaign launched by the American Library Association and Amnesty International to celebrate the freedom to read and to stress the importance of ensuring the accessibility of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to anyone who wishes to read them. The goal is to give readers the freedom to develop their own opinions and conclusions as well as learn about the history of banned books in America.

It is important to be aware of banned books and why they are challenged by parents, teachers, libraries, and organizations across the globe!

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