- So that’s our lockdown reading list sorted then.
The American Library Association has released its list of the top 10 most banned and challenged books of 2019.
And LGBT+ themed books take up slots one to six, eight and 10. Moreover, the would-be censors have particularly targeted books aimed at children and young adult readers.
All is not lost though. In the past the list has contained some of the greatest works of American literature.
The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom’s list comes as the US celebrates National Library Week from 19 to 25 April.
The office compiles the list based on information from media stories and from voluntary reports sent to the OIF from communities across the US.
However, it believes the reports people send it about attempts to censor books are just the tip of the iceberg.
It describes book ‘challenges’ as documented requests to remove materials from schools and libraries.
In some cases, people have also vandalized or hidden the books so others can’t read them.
But surveys indicate that between 82% and 97% of book ‘challenges’ remain unreported and receive no media.
Most of the top 10 book challenges the office managed to track related to books where people objected to LGBT+ themes.
They don’t like Harry Potter either
The most challenged of all is George by Alex Gino. George is a children’s novel about Melissa, a middle school transgender girl who is unable to be herself to the rest of the world.
Meanwhile, at number 10 is And Tango Makes Three. The illustrated book for young children tells the story of two male penguins who adopt a chick.
The LGBT+ themed books share the list with two of the biggest names in literature at the moment.
Number 7 on the list is The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Those who tried to ban it found it ‘profane’ and ‘vulgar’.
Meanwhile JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series is the ninth-most complained about book.
In the challenges, people claim it contains ‘actual curses and spells’. But having tried ‘wingardium leviosa’ while waving around a stick, we can confirm magical levitation is sadly not possible.
Here are the books and the reasons people want to ban them.
1 George by Alex Gino
Reasons: People challenged, banned, restricted and hid the book to avoid attracting controversy. They were worried about its LGBT+ content and trans characters. Challengers said schools and libraries should not ‘put books in a child’s hand that require discussion’.
They also complained about sexual references. And they said the book conflicts with a religious viewpoint and doesn’t respect ‘traditional family structure’.
2 Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin
Reasons: Challengers complained about its LGBT+ content. They worried about ‘its effect on any young people who would read it’. Moreover, they said it was sexually explicit and biased.
3 A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG Keller
Reasons: People challenged and vandalized it for LGBT+ content and political viewpoints. They are concerned it is ‘designed to pollute the morals of its readers’ and complained it did not include a content warning.
4 Sex is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smyth
Reasons: People challenged, banned, and relocated it for LGBT+ content. Complaints focused on it discussing gender identity and sex education. People claimed the title and illustrations were ‘inappropriate’.
5 Prince & Knight by Daniel Haack, illustrated by Stevie Lewis
Reasons: Censors challenged and restricted it for featuring a gay marriage and LGBT+ content. They said it was ‘a deliberate attempt to indoctrinate young children’ and could cause confusion, curiosity, and gender dysphoria. Moreover, they said it conflicts with a religious viewpoint.
6 I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
Reasons: People challenged and relocated the book because of its LGBT+ content and for a transgender character. People who complained said it confronted a ‘sensitive, controversial, and politically charged’ topic.
7 The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Reasons: People banned and challenged the book for profanity and for ‘vulgarity and sexual overtones’.
8 Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
Reasons: People challenged Drama for its LGBT+ themes and claimed it goes against ‘family values and morals’.
9 Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
Reasons: People tried to ban and forbid the Harry Potter books for referring to magic and witchcraft and for containing actual curses and spells. They also complained some characters use ‘nefarious means’ to attain goals.
10 And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, illustrated by Henry Cole
Reason: People complained about the children’s story about same-sex penguin parents and some moved it to be less visible.
Great American literature has always offended the censors
Three of the LGBT+ themed books also made the list in 2018. George, A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo and Drama were all in the top five then too.
Meanwhile people were complaining about And Tango Makes Three more than a decade ago. It topped the list in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010.
But the authors and illustrators are in fantastic company. In the past the list has contained great works of American literature including:
- To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.
- Beloved, by Tony Morrison.
- The Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger.
- Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck.
- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.
US LGBT+ media advocacy organization GLAAD partnered with children’s book publisher, Little Bee Books, to publish Prince & Knight.
GLAAD president and Sarah Kate Ellis said:
‘These beautiful titles should not be challenged, they should be celebrated. But this list is an important reminder of the work ahead for LGBTQ families. GLAAD will continue our advocacy work until these titles are available in every library and bookstore.’