8.25.23 – Dallas Morning News

“The 13 Most Banned Books in the United States”

By Sarah Bahari

Excerpts from this article: 


Parents, activists, lawmakers and school board trustees are challenging books at unprecedented levels…

More than 2,500 unique titles — largely about gender, sexuality and race — were challenged

Here are the most frequently banned and challenged books in the U.S., according to the library association. Data is based on reports filed by librarians, community members and news stories throughout the country.

  1. Gender Queer: A Memoir,by Maia Kobabe

The bestselling autobiographical graphic novel was praised for its exploration of gender identity and what it’s like to grow up nonbinary, but it has also been attacked over its sexually explicit nature and illustrations.

  1. All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson

This autobiography is a series of essays exploring the life of a queer Black man through childhood, adolescence and college. Critics have cited its LGBTQ content, profanity and claims it is sexually explicit.

  1. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Published in 1970, Morrison’s book tells the story of a young African-American girl growing up in Ohio after the Great Depression. It is frequently banned for its depiction of child abuse and sexual violence.

  1. Flamer by Mike Curato

The semi-autobiographical graphic novel explores a teenage boy’s struggle to understand and accept his sexuality while at boy scout camp in the 1990s. It has received rave reviews for its portrayal of suicidal ideation, but some have criticized the LGBTQ themes.

  1. Looking for Alaska by John Green

This coming-of-age novel tells the story of a teenager who leaves behind his mundane life in Florida to attend preparatory school in Alabama. The book touches on themes of grief, hope and young relationships. Critics have cited offensive language and LGBTQ content.

  1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Set in the 1990s, this coming-of-age story follows an introverted teenager during his freshman year of high school. It was lauded for its portrayal of young adulthood but has been banned over its depiction of drug use, teenage sex and sexual abuse.

  1. Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison

This semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel details the story of a young, gay Mexican-American who has faced repeated obstacles. The New York Times called the book’s protagonist, Mike Muñoz, “Holden Caulfield for a new millennium.” But the book has faced challenges over LGBTQ content and sexual language.

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

Published in 2007, this book tells the story of Junior, a promising cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. The novel is a recipient of the National Book Awards, but critics have condemned its profanity and sexual content.

  1. Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez

Set in East Texas, the novel details the relationship between two teenagers: a Mexican-American girl and an African-American boy during the 1930s. Due to sexual language and depictions of abuse, the book faces frequent challenges and bans.

  1. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

This book is part of a popular fantasy series, but its sexual content has landed it on the top-10 list.

  1. Crank by Ellen Hopkins

Published in 2004, Crank is based loosely on the real life addictions of the author’s daughter to crystal meth. It is the first book of a trilogy. Its depictions of drug use and sexual content have made it a target of book bans.

  1. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

A comedic take on teenage life, this novel follows a social loner as he navigates high school and relationships. The book has faced bans and challenges because of its profanity and sexual content.

  1. This Book Is Gay by Juno Dawson

This nonfiction book on sexuality and gender explores, stereotypes, coming out as LGBT, where to meet people and the ins and outs of sex. It includes stories from people across gender and sexual spectrums. It has been banned for LGBTQ and sexual content.


Other frequently banned books, according to PEN America:

Tricks by Ellen Hopkins tells the stories of five troubled teenage girls and was noted for addressing issues of sexual activity and drug use.

The Handmaid’s Tale (Graphic Novel) is Margaret Atwood’s dystopian classic about a patriarchal society told in graphic novel format.

Sold by Patricia McCormick shares the story of a girl from Nepal who is sold into sexual slavery in India.

Push by Sapphire is about a Black teenager who lives with her abusive mother and is raped by her father. It inspired the 2009 movie Precious.

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur is a series of fiction and poetry about survival. It includes explorations of sexual abuse and violence.