Click to search the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library Skip Navigation

Biblio File, LGBT@NYPL

Top 5 Most-Challenged Books of 2016 Include LGBTQ Themes


lgbt banner
The top five most-challenged books of 2016.

Attempts to ban books are still widespread in school districts and libraries across the country. Banned Books Week, held this year from Sept. 24-30, seeks to bring readers' attention to the practice.

When the American Library Association (ALA) recently published its annual list of the most frequently challenged books in the nation, we noticed something similar about the top five most-challenged books: All of them feature LGBTQ characters and storylines.

Take a look at these five reads, and some of the complaints levied against them according to the ALA.

1. This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki & Mariko Tamaki

This graphic novel by cousin duo Jillian and Mariko Tamaki tells the story of two teenage girls whose friendship is tested by growing up, family drama, and crushes over the course of a summer vacation. This One Summer was critically acclaimed and awarded the Printz Honor and Caldecott Honor, but it was still challenged for its "LGBT characters, drug use and profanity," and "mature themes."

2. Drama by Raina Telgemeier

Raina Telgemeier's graphic novel about a middle-school drama club is a sweet, compelling read, but some objected to the book's LGBT content — that is, a storyline involving two gay teenagers and an onstage kiss. Per the ACLU of Texas, the book was successfully banned for being "politically, racially, or socially offensive."

3. George by Alex Gino

The title character of Alex Gino's George is a transgender teenager who dreams of playing Charlotte in her school's production of Charlotte's Web. This moving story about George's identity and her journey to becoming who she truly is, was challenged for LGBT content.

4. I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel & Jazz Jennings, illus. by Shelagh McNicholas

Jazz Jennings, the teenage transgender activist and YouTube star, wrote this book about her real-life gender identity journey with Jessica Herthel and illustrator Shelagh McNicholas. Targeted towards kids who may have questions about their own identity, it was challenged "because it portrays a transgender child and because of language, sex education, and offensive viewpoints."

5. Two Boys Kissing, David Levithan

The cover alone of this book, which depicts two boys kissing, was cited as a reason for challenging, not to mention the fact that it was said to include "sexually explicit LGBT content." The novel earned high praise from critics and was longlisted for the National Book Award in 2013.

For more information on Banned Books Week, see our blog post for information and ways to participate. 

Banned Books Week


Patron-generated content represents the views and interpretations of the patron, not necessarily those of The New York Public Library. For more information see NYPL's Website Terms and Conditions.

Book Banning

Educating students on their Right to Read and making them think about why people ban books is one of my favorite lessons to teach. Students are challenged to think and express themselves in a new way. It's so enjoyable to watch their faces and reactions when I share some of the books they love and why people wanted them Charlotte's Web, The Wizard of Oz, etc.

Post new comment