The list of the Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2020 is out, and we’re happy to note that you can find many of them on MacPhaidin Library’s shelves.  

Each year, the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom releases that list in to mark Banned Books Week, which was established in 1982 in response to growing numbers of challenges to and bans of books in schools, bookstores, and libraries. According to the American Library Association, “Banned Books Week 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.”  

Author Jason Reynolds is the inaugural Honorary Chair for Banned Books Week. Reynolds, who has written more than a dozen books for young adults and won multiple literary prizes, has two of his own books on the most recent list of the Top Ten Most Challenged Books. 

Other books on this year’s list include children’s books that explore LGBTQIA+ topics, picture books that address systemic racism, and classic literature that portrays sexual violence. 

Among the books we have in our collection and the reasons they were challenged are: 

  • George by Alex Gino – This children’s book tells the story of George, who knows she’s not a boy – she’s a girl. The winner of the Stonewall Book Award, The Lambda Literary Award, and the E.B. White Award, this book has been repeatedly banned, challenged, or restricted for LGBTQIA+ content. You can find it in MacPhaidin Library’s curriculum collection. 
  • The Bluest Eye – The first novel by Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison has appeared frequently on the list. This book was challenged as “explicit” for its sexual content and depiction of child abuse. You can find it in the library’s circulating collection. 
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie – This book has been repeatedly challenged since its publication in 2007 for addressing issues including alcoholism, poverty, bullying, and sexuality. It also won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. You’ll also find this in the library’s curriculum collection. 
  • The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas – This book is in the library’s leisure reading collection on the first floor, across from Ace’s Place. It tells the story of Starr Carter, a witness to her friend’s death at the hands of police. This has been challenged for profanity and promoting an “anti-police message.” 
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – Published in 1960, this book is a tale of coming of age in an atmosphere of virulent prejudice. It has been challenged for racial slurs, the featuring of a “while savior” character, and its depiction of the Black Experience. This is located on the third floor of the library. 
  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck – This classic by Nobel Prize-winner Steinbeck has been challenged for racial slurs and racial stereotypes. 

The following books are also on the list. While not in the MacPhaidin Library Collection, you can access them as eBooks or audio books with an eCard from the Boston Public Library

  • Stamped--Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds – Challenged for claims it does not encompass racism against all people and contains “selective storytelling incidents”
  • All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely – Challenged and banned for profanity, drug use, alcoholism, “promote anti-police views”, and “too much of a sensitive topic right now.” 
  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson- Banned and challenged after claims it was biased against male students and for inclusion of rape and profanity. 
  • Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard, illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin (available in print at various library branches.)  - Challenged for “divisive language” and “anti-police views. 

Banned books week runs from Sept. 26-Oct. 2.