‘Banned Books Week’ Champions Challenged Literature


Upwards of 11,300 books have been challenged for content that some consider to be offensive, according to the American Library Association. Books featuring teen Native Americans, on-the-run alien lovers, gay penguins, and middle-school theater geeks topped the latest list. (CNN)

Have you read any of this year’s most-challenged books? Take our polls and tell us about it!

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit. (Nice round-up of multimedia today!)

Click to enlarge this great infographic!


Click on these markers to read about challenges to books in school libraries across the United States. The markers list the name of the city or town, name of the school, reasons for the challenge, and outcome of the challenge. Click to top right to go to the full-size map.

This map is drawn from cases documented by ALA and the Kids’ Right to Read Project, a collaboration of the National Coalition Against Censorship and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression.

Discussion Ideas


  • What are the leading reasons why books are challenged or banned? Take a look at the ALA’s great graphic for some help.
    • Often challenges are motivated by a desire to protect children from “inappropriate” sexual content or “offensive” language. The following were the top three reasons cited for challenging materials as reported to the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom:
      • sexually explicit material (34%)
      • offensive language (23%)
      • unsuited for age group (21%)


  • Where are books most challenged?
    • public libraries
    • schools (these challenges are usually part of a challenge to a class curriculum)
    • school libraries


  • Who challenges books?
    • parents
    • non-religious groups or individuals (religious objections are listed separately)
    • library patrons


  • According to CNN, 80% of 2014’s most-challenged books feature “diverse” content. What is “diverse” content?
    • The ALA relies on research that defines diverse content as having:
      • a non-white main or secondary character
      • an LGBT main or secondary character
      • a disabled main or secondary character
      • issues about race or racism
      • LGBT issues
      • issues about religion (including works about the Holocaust and terrorism)
      • issues about disabilities or mental illness
      • a non-Western settings (outside North America and Europe)


  • Has your school or school district ever banned a book?
    • You might be surprised—make it a project to take a look in your local public library or archives. Ask a librarian for help! They’ll know where to look and how to get you started.


  • Have you ever read a book that has been banned or challenged?
    • Do you understand why it was challenged?
    • Do you think the people supporting the challenge had a good argument?



CNN: Banned Books Week champions challenged literature

#BannedBooksWeek (Tweet!)

Banned Books Week (Facebook)

Banned Books Week: Mapping Censorship (interactive map)

ALA: 2014 Books Challenges infographic

ALA: About Banned & Challenged Books Q&A

National Council of Teachers of English: Intellectual Freedom Center

ALA: 30 Years of Liberating Literature (interactive timeline!)

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund: Banned Books Week

National Coalition Against Censorship

Nat Geo: Booklists!
Geography in Fiction
Nature and the Environment
Travel and Traveling
Action and Adventure
Explorers Recommend (and Recommend Some More!)
Geography Goes to the Movies

One thought on “‘Banned Books Week’ Champions Challenged Literature

Leave a Reply