Top 13 Challenged Books of 2022

These are the top 13 challenged books in the U.S. in 2022.

The American Library Association has announced the theme for Banned Books Week 2023: “Let Freedom Read!” Banned Books Week will take place October 1 – 7, 2023.

“As we’ve seen throughout National Library Week, as long as there are libraries, Americans’ right to read will not be overcome by censorship,” says Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada. “Our 2023 Banned Books Week theme – ‘Let Freedom Read’ – captures what’s at stake for our democracy: that the safety of our right to speak and think freely is directly proportional to our right to read. ALA encourages libraries in every context to mark Banned Books Week by inviting other groups within their communities to celebrate and take action to protect our freedom to read all year long.”

LeVar Burton to Lead 2023 Banned Books Week as Honorary Chair

Burton will headline a live virtual conversation with Banned Books Week Youth Honorary Chair Da’Taeveyon Daniels about censorship and advocacy at 8:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, October 4. The event will stream live on Instagram (@banned_books_week).

Visit BannedBooksWeek.org for more details.

How are the books selected for this list?

Challenged Books and the American Library Association

Every year, the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) compiles a list of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books…

in order to inform the public about censorship in libraries and schools. The lists are based on information from reports filed by library professionals and community members and from news stories published throughout the United States.

Because many book challenges are not reported to the ALA or covered by the press, the Top Most Challenged Books lists and 2022 data compiled by ALA represent only a snapshot of book challenges. A challenge to a book may be resolved in favor of retaining the book in the collection, or it can result in a book being restricted or withdrawn from the library.

ALA documented 1,269 demands to censor library books and resources in 2022, the highest number of attempted book bans since ALA began compiling data about censorship in libraries more than 20 years ago. 

Challenged Books of 2022

1. Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe

Challenged because of LGBTQIA+ content and claimed to be sexually explicit.

Number of challenges: 151

In 2014, Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, thought that a comic about reading statistics would be the last autobiographical comic e would ever write. At the time, it was the only thing e felt comfortable with strangers knowing about em.

Now, Gender Queer is here. Maia’s intensely cathartic autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fanfiction, and facing the trauma and fundamental violation of pap smears.

Started as a way to explain to eir family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, Gender Queer is more than a personal story: it is a useful and touching guide on gender identity–what it means and how to think about it–for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere.

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

Challenged because of LGBTQIA+ content and claimed to be sexually explicit.

Number of challenges: 86

In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia.

From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five to flea marketing with his loving grandmother to his first sexual relationships, this young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys.

3. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Challenged because of the depiction of sexual abuse, EDI content, and claimed to be sexually explicit.

Number of challenges: 73

In Morrison’s acclaimed first novel, Pecola Breedlove—an 11-year-old Black girl in an America whose love for its blond, blue-eyed children can devastate all others—prays for her eyes to turn blue: so that she will be beautiful, so that people will look at her, so that her world will be different.

This is the story of the nightmare at the heart of her yearning and the tragedy of its fulfillment.

4. Flamer by Mike Curato

Challenged because of LGBTQIA+ content and claimed to be sexually explicit.

Number of challenges: 62

I know I’m not gay. Gay boys like other boys. I hate boys. They’re mean and scary, and they’re always destroying something or saying something dumb or both.

I hate that word. Gay. It makes me feel . . . unsafe.

It’s the summer between middle school and high school, and Aiden Navarro is away at camp. Everyone’s going through changes―but for Aiden, the stakes feel higher. As he navigates friendships, deals with bullies, and spends time with Elias (a boy he can’t stop thinking about), he finds himself on a path of self-discovery and acceptance.

5. Looking for Alaska by John Green

Challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and claimed to be sexually explicit

Number of challenges: 55

Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words—and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet François Rabelais called the “Great Perhaps.” Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young, who will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.

Looking for Alaska brilliantly chronicles the indelible impact one life can have on another. A modern classic, this stunning debut marked #1 bestselling author John Green’s arrival as a groundbreaking new voice in contemporary fiction.

View the complete list of Challenged Books in 2022

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