"Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us."  – US Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas in a speech to the Authors Guild in New York on December 3, 1951

Established by the ALA in 1982, Banned Books Week is an annual event that spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. It brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted for removal or restriction in libraries and schools. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.

Among the 100 Most Frequently Banned or Challenged Books in the last decade are award-winning literary classics for children, young adults, and adults, including: 

Harry Potter (series) by JK Rowling

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Forever by Judy Blume

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson

Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Green

When Dad Killed Mom by Julius Lester

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

A Time to Kill by John Grisham

Always Running by Luis Rodriguez

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

Black Boy by Richard Wright

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissenger

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle

Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

Grendel by John Gardner

The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende

That three of the books on this list are written by the recently deceased Toni Morrison, recognized as perhaps the greatest American novelist of the late-20th century only demonstrates how banning access to such books harms readers by depriving them the opportunity to read quality literature.

Interestingly, among the most cited reasons for challenging or banning a book in 2018 are for featuring LGBTQIA+ characters, sexually explicit content or “inappropriate” political views. This is a sea change from a decade ago, when key reasons cited for banning or challenging a book were sexually explicit content, religious values (claiming certain books glorified the satanic, occult or supernatural) or racist language.

We salute all the banned authors present and past who have written works that provoke thought, challenge conformity, and introduce readers to concepts, places, people and themes that they’ve never before encountered!