Category Archives: banned books

2021 banned books focus on minorities and non-“straight” people



Books about minorities and non-”straight” people were the kind most often banned in the US in 2021, according to the American Library Association (ALA).

In 2021, more books were banned than in any other year of the 20 years that the ALA has been keeping records.

The rise in numbers in 2021 is attributed to social media where lists of books adults think inappropriate for children circulate.

Parents and community members lobbied school boards to remove certain books from school and public libraries.  1597 individual books were either challenged or removed, according to the ALA.  The actual count might be different since the ALA gathers its information from the media and self-reporting by libraries.

Librarians have been threatened with legal prosecution over the book choices they have made.  These threats might be skewing the choices librarians make, encouraging them to choose books espousing “traditional” values and discouraging books about sexual orientation and racial issues.

The ten most banned books in the US during 2021 are

  1. Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe. Banned, challenged and restricted for LGBTQ+ content and because it was considered to have sexually explicit images
  2. Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison. 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 Banned and challenged for LGBTQ+ content, profanity and because it was considered to be sexually explicit
  4. Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez 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 Banned and challenged for profanity, violence and because 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 Banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references and use of a derogatory term
  7. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and degrading to women
  8. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison Banned and challenged because it depicts child sexual abuse and was considered sexually explicit
  9. This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson Banned, challenged, relocated and restricted for providing sexual education and LGBTQ+ content.
  10. Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to be sexually explicit


To Kill a Mockingbird banned again and reinstated again

Biloxi, Mississippi, Public Schools  banned–and then a few days later–and unbanned To Kill a Mockingbird from being taught to eighth graders.  The reason given for the ban is that some of the language in the Pulizer Prize-winning novel makes people uncomfortable.

This novel, published more than 60 years ago, concerns racism and discrimination during the 1930’s in a fictional Alabama town.

Mockingbird has been banned many times in the past, and once again joined a list of children’s books banned at one time or another.  They include

–for language:  Huckleberry Finn, Junie B. Jones and the Stupid, Smelly Bus

–for poor grammar:  the Junie B. Jones series

–for religious insensitivity:  A Wrinkle in Time

–for magic:  the Harry Potter series

–for child nudity:  In the Night Kitchen

–for potty humor:  Captain Underpants

–for exploring puberty:  many Judy Blume books

Ironically, as soon as a book is banned, many children read it on their own without the guidance of teachers and without discussion of its controversial aspects, thus defeating the purpose of the ban.  Go figure.

Dr. Seuss almost banned. Other books really canned.

Did you know that that even Dr. Seuss books have irritated readers so much that they tried to get them banned from school and library shelves?

See if you can identify why the books below, usually read in elementary and middle grades, were challenged and in some cases banned.  Answers will appear at the end.  (Some questions have more than one correct answer.)

Image result for hop on Pop illustration

1.  Why did a patron of the Toronto, Canada, Public Library want Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss banned in 2014? (It wasn’t.  Phew!)

a.  imperfect rhymes

b.  too dark a theme for little children

c.  encouraging of young children to use violence against their fathers

Image result for If I ran the Zoo book images

2.  Why did patrons of the Vancouver, Canada, Public Library want If I Ran the Zoo by Dr. Seuss banned in 2014? (Again, reason prevailed.)

a.  Vancouver doesn’t have a zoo.

b. Illustrations show Asians with slanted eyes.

c.  Illustrations of snakes were too scary for children

Image result for Of Mice and Men illustration

3.  Why did two parents of the Brainerd, MN, School District want John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men banned?

a.  Japanese people were referred to as Japs.

b.  Jesus Christ was used as a curse word.

c.  The n-word (the actual word) was used to describe African Americans.

Image result for Harry Potter book illustration

4.  Why were the Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling challenged hundreds of times by religious groups within the first two years of publication?

a.  violence

b.  occult/Satanic themes

c. anti-family themes

Image result for The Giver illustration

5.  Why was The Giver by Lois Lowry ranked eleventh for books most frequently asked for removal from schools from 1990 to 2000? (It was removed about one-third of the time.)

a.  violence

b.  too dark a theme for children

c.  too few women characters

Image result for To Kill a Mockingbird illustration

6.  Why was To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee challenged in Eden Valley, MN, in 1977 and temporarily banned?

a.  It used the words “damn” and “whore lady.”

b.  It depicted a bigoted aunt who expressed her views using the n-word.

c.  The Humane Society objected to the way a rabid dog was killed.


Image result for Diary of Anne Frank illustration

7.  Why was Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank challenged but not banned by the Northville, MN, middle schools in 2013?

a.  too realistic description of Nazi atrocities

b.  too realistic description of a girl’s anatomy

c.  The diary was published without the author’s permission.


Image result for No Fear Shakespeare Romeo and juliet illustration

8.  Why did some parents in Liberty, SC, in 2013 want No Fear Shakespeare; Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare banned?

a.  suicide

b.  underage marriage

c.  mature sexual theme

Google “banned books” and you’ll see that the list of banned books is long, though fortunately, most books’ placement on the list has been short-lived.   Eighty years ago the Nazis had book-burning bonfires, but today Europeans read those same books unimpeded.  Luckily, we live in a time of the internet, when it’s almost impossible to ban books any more.

  1. c
  2. b
  3. a, b, c
  4. a, b, c
  5. a, b
  6. a
  7. b
  8. c