Books about blacks and LGBTQ or authors from these communities were among the 10 most difficult titles in 2021, the American Library Association said.
While efforts to ban books in schools intensified across the United States last year, the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom tracked which books were targeted at libraries, schools, and universities. On Monday, ALA has published its list of the most contested titles.
Most books have been called unfit because some people considered them to be sexual images, or include mentions of a sexual nature. Some books dealt with the LGBTQ experience, and one was challenged for allegedly promoting an “anti-police message,” the ALA reported.
Here is an ALA list of the 10 most challenging books of 2021:
The organization has been collecting data on banned books since 1990, but has been publishing the list since at least 2001. The lists are based on media materials and messages that libraries and schools sent to the ALA.
ALA President Patricia Wong said last year the organization tracked the largest number of attempts to ban books since her organization began compiling a list of books with the biggest problem.
Last year there were 729 calls to library, school and university materials and services. This is from 156 and 377 problems reported to the ALA in 2020 and 2019 respectively.
While the ALA supports parents ’decisions regarding their child’s reading and believes they should not have this choice dictated by others, Wong said students’ access to books should not be restricted.
“Young people need to have access to different books from which they can learn about different points of view. So, despite organized efforts to ban books, libraries are still ready to do what we always have: to make knowledge and ideas are available so that people are free to choose what to read, ”Wong said in a statement.
Criticism has shifted from racial justice to gender identity
Parents have given up problems with books that are mostly devoted racism and racial justice in 2020, focus more on books that discuss gender identity and sexual orientation.
The most challenging book of 2021 was Mai Kobabe’s “Gender Queer,” which discusses the journey of a non-binary author with her own identity. Kobabe’s book has been banned or challenged in school libraries in at least a dozen states.
Earlier, Kobabe told CNN that he wants people who call pornography a “gender queer” to read the entire book.
“Read everything and judge for yourself, not just based on one or two little clips you’ve seen on social media,” Kobabe said.
Three other books on the 2021 list – “All Boys Are Not Blue”, “The Boy on the Lawn” and “The Bluest Eye” – were the subject of a lawsuit filed earlier this year two students in Missouri.
In February, students sued their school district for deciding to remove eight books from school libraries. The district argued that the novels were banned because they discussed issues related to race, gender, and sexual identity, according to the lawsuit.
For George M. Johnson, author of “All Boys Are Not Blue,” the many problems with their book and its inclusion in the ALA list testify to how important their work is to students and adolescents.
“The ban on my book will not prevent me from living, my history, or future generations of children like me,” Johnson said.
“When we ban these books, the real lives are at stake, we need to read their stories and about such characters so that they also know that they can exist and thrive in this world,” they added.
The list, Johnson said, gives them the opportunity to write even more stories.