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Book censorship in the 2021 by the numbers

Most banned books and censorship in 2021 - ALA report

In 2021, 1,597 books were challenged or banned in the United States, according to the newest report by the American Library Association.

The most challenged book of the year 2021, as reported by the American Library Association in State of America’s Libraries Report 2022, was Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe.

This touching memoir about Kobabe’s path to identifying as nonbinary and asexual, was banned, challenged, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, and because it was considered to have sexually explicit images.

In 2021, 1,597 books were affected by censorship attempts. Most attempts – as many as 39% – were initiated by parents. Library patrons were behind 24% of challenges, followed by board administration (18%) and political or religious groups and associations (10%).

Over 80% of challenges took place in the libraries (44% – school libraries, 37% – public libraries). The most common reasons for challenges were sexually explicit content and critical race theory.

Stephanie Hlywak, ALA’s Director of the Communications and Marketing Office, wrote in the introduction to the report:

Books reach across boundaries and build connections
between readers. Reading—especially books that extend
beyond our own experiences—expands our worldview.
Censorship, on the other hand, divides us and creates barriers.

You can read and download the full report for free from ALA’s website. There, you can also find visual materials that you can share to spread the word about the current state the American libraries, and the report itself.

Top 10 most challenged books in 2021

Top 10 most challenged books of 2021 in the USA full infographic

1. Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe

Reasons: Banned, challenged, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to have sexually explicit images.

2. Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison

Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to be sexually explicit.    

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

Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content, profanity, and because it was considered to be sexually explicit.    

4. Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez

Reasons: Banned, challenged, and restricted for depictions of abuse and because it was considered to be sexually explicit.

5. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, violence, and it was thought to promote an anti-police message and indoctrination of a social agenda.

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

Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references, and use of a derogatory term.    

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

Reasons: Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and degrading to women.    

8. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Reasons: Banned and challenged because it depicts child sexual abuse and was considered sexually explicit.    

9. This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson

Reasons: Banned, challenged, relocated, and restricted for providing sexual education and LGBTQIA+ content.    

10. Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin

Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to be sexually explicit.

Book censorship in 2021 by the numbers

Book censorship in 2021 by the numbers full infographic

In 2021, 1,597 books were affected by censorship attempts. Most attempts – as many as 39% – were initiated by parents.

Library patrons were behind 24% of challenges, followed by board administration (18%) and political or religious groups and associations (10%).

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Recommendation box

Gifts for modern book lovers in 2022

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Breathable 3D sleep headphones

Breathable 3D sleep headphones – great for audiobooks

This cozy and breathable sleeping mask has a special 3D shape which will not put pressure on your eyeballs and face. It features built-in Bluetooth earbuds with a playback time reaching 10 hours.

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Cute book sleeve

Cute book sleeve – great for print books and e-readers

From The Great Oak comes a large zippered book sleeve with a cozy and bright pattern. The soft middle layer is designed to keep your books safe and comfy. It will protect not only your paperbacks, but also an e-reader.

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Hands-free pillow stand

Hands-free pillow stand – great for e-readers and print books

An improved version of a popular Lamicall tablet pillow comes now with a side pocket for a pen or small accessories. The grooves are deep enough to hold a print book. It’s made of durable materials and is available in five fashionable colors.

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