“Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better.”
-Albert Camus (French author, journalist and philosopher)
In 2020, American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins sparked controversy for its portrayal of the Mexican immigrant experience, and a book tour was cancelled due to threats to the author, and retailers. Amidst widespread criticism, 142 writers signed an open letter describing American Dirt as “exploitative, oversimplified, and ill-informed.” A group of Latinx writers later met with the publishing company, which agreed to increase representation in both staffing and titles.Has this book caught your interest? Click here to borrow.
Beyond Magenta was the second-most banned book of the year in 2019 due to its LGBTQIA+ content, “its effect on any young people who would read it,” and concerns it was biased. It was challenged in BC due to a concern that it condoned pedophilia since there was a depiction of minors having sex without the book stating that “sex with children is not okay.” The book was retained.Has this book caught your interest? Click here to borrow.
In 2017, the Wichita, Kansas school system decided against including George by Alex Gino in school libraries, citing language and references that were inappropriate for young children. It was specifically challenged for LGBTQIA+ content, conflicting with a religious viewpoint, and not reflecting “the value of our community.” George topped 2021’s list of challenged kids’ books.Has this book caught your interest? Click here to borrow.
2020 witnessed the challenge of Minnie and Moo: The Attack of the Easter Bunnies at an urban library system in BC. The concern was over the plotline, as the story suggests the Easter Bunny may not exist and this could present a “strong risk of … ruining the magic of the holiday for someone.”Has this book caught your interest? Click here to borrow.
Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book has been challenged numerous times, including by an Ontario library customer who felt the depiction of a toddler’s family being murdered was far too creepy and violent for children.Has this book caught your interest? Click here to borrow.
Ibram X Kendi and Jason Reynolds’ Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, a history of racism for children and teens was challenged by parents in 2021 claiming that Stamped contained “selective storytelling incidents” and “does not encompass racism against all people”.Has this book caught your interest? Click here to borrow.
Despite winning over 20 awards, Speak has a history of being heavily challenged and banned because it was believed to contain a political viewpoint, be biased against male students, and it included rape and profanity. In 2013, parents in Sarasota, Florida became enraged, claiming this story of a 13-year old girl dealing with the fallout of a rape was one of “soft pornography.”Has this book caught your interest? Click here to borrow.
1991 – A Black Canadian organization called PRUDE (Pride of Race, Unity and Dignity through Education) in Saint John, N.B. tried to have To Kill A Mockingbird removed from school reading lists citing its portrayal of racial minorities. It was eventually removed from the learning resources list. It has been challenged several other times in Canada.Has this book caught your interest? Click here to borrow.
1994 – A member of Alberta’s legislature called for the removal of Of Mice and Men from Alberta’s schools with a petition signed by 811 Albertans who wanted schools to withdraw books that “demean or profane the name of God and Jesus Christ.”
2000 – A member of the Reform party asked that this book should be removed from schools in Winnipeg’s River East School Division, due to Steinbeck’s use of “God”, “God-damned”, and “Jesus” as profane and blasphemous language. The school division took no action.
In The Bluest Eye, Pulitzer prizewinner Toni Morrison tells the story of a black girl growing up in the 1940s. Widely taught in schools, it is frequently on the American Library Association’s lists of most challenged books, and was the tenth most-challenged book of the past decade. An unflinching look at the pain and damage caused by bigotry, the book has been “banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and depicts child sexual abuse.”Has this book caught your interest? Click here to borrow.
2008 – In Toronto, a parent formally complained that this novel’s “profane language”, anti-Christian overtones, “violence” and “sexual degradation” probably violated the district school policies that require students to show respect and tolerance to one another. In 2009, a review panel of the Toronto District School Board recommended that the schools keep the novel in the curriculum in grades 11 and 12.Has this book caught your interest? Click here to borrow.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas was challenged for profanity and promoting an anti-police message. In 2018, the book was challenged by the Fraternal Order of Police in Charleston, South Carolina, where they stated that the book is “almost an indoctrination of distrust of police and we’ve got to put a stop to that.”Has this book caught your interest? Click here to borrow.