Banned Books Reading List: Stand for the Right to Read Freely

By NYPL Staff
September 14, 2022
collage of book covers

Public libraries have always been at the forefront of the fight against censorship, leading to the creation in 1982 of Banned Books Week, a time to highlight titles that were targeted for removal from schools and libraries. However, book banning is not new—it's one of the oldest recorded forms of censorship. Despite the legacy of censorship threatening books and authors, in 2022, there has been a particularly aggressive wave of bans and challenges across America. The American Library Association, which pioneered Banned Books Week, has reported a record amount of books banned in recent years—many of which center people of color and LGBTQ+ voices.   

For this year’s Banned Books Week, September 18–24, the Library is honoring the work of widely celebrated and censored author Toni Morrison and her passionate advocacy against book banning. In her honor, her titles Beloved and The Bluest Eye (frequent targets of book bans) will be available on SimplyE, NYPL’s free virtual e-reader, without holds until October 31. 

Not just a champion for advocating for her own voice, Morrison lifted up the voices of other authors whose books were challenged. NYPL has created a book list for all ages, selected by our expert librarians, to highlight titles both past and present that are targets of bans and challenges. While this list is just a small sample of the different books that are challenged, it demonstrates the wide range of books that are deemed “too dangerous” to read—and also how these bans and challenges are often aimed at silencing the voices, perspectives, and stories of marginalized communities.

Check out the books below, talk to your librarians about what other titles have been the target of censorship, then—check them out. Read banned books. Ensure these stories—and the writers who share them—are read, their voices amplified, and their impact felt.

Jump to: Picture Books | Middle Grade | Young Adult | Adult

Summaries provided via NYPL’s catalog, which draws from multiple sources. Click through to each book’s title for more.