List of most commonly challenged books in the United States

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Judy Blume is the author featured most frequently on this list (5 times). Her young adult novels are typically about coming of age issues such as teenage sexuality.
The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling was the most challenged work from 2000–2009. Its topics relating to things such as witchcraft have generated controversy.
The oldest works featured on the list were written by Mark Twain. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884) is challenged consistently for its language and discussion of racism.

A challenged book is one that is sought to be removed or otherwise restricted from public access, typically from a library or a school curriculum. This is a list of the most commonly challenged books in the United States. It is primarily based on data gathered by the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF). The OIF gathers their data from media reports from reports from librarians and teachers.[1]

According to the OIF, the top three reasons for challenging such materials were that they contained "sexually explicit" content, "offensive" language, or were "unsuited to age group".[2][3]


The list is sorted alphabetically by default. Included is each book's rank in the ALA's lists of top 100 challenged books by decade (if applicable).

Title Author Reason(s) for Challenge Year(s)
ALA rank[4]
ALA rank[5]
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian[6] Sherman Alexie Content regarding alcohol, bullying, violence; sexual references; profanity and slurs 2007 N/A N/A
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain Coarse language, racial stereotypes and use of the word "nigger" 1884 14 5
The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby Dav Pilkey Encouraging poor spelling 2002 47 N/A
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Mark Twain Coarse language; racial stereotypes 1876 N/A 83
Alice (series) Phyllis Reynolds Naylor Sexual content 1985–2012 2 14
All the King's Men[7] Robert Penn Warren Depicting a "depressing view of life" and "immoral situations" 1946 N/A N/A
Always Running Luis J. Rodriguez Gang violence, drug use and sexual references 1993 68 85
America E.R. Frank Sexual references; drug and alcohol use 2002 100 N/A
American Psycho Bret Easton Ellis Sexual references; violence toward women 1991 N/A 53
An American Tragedy[7] Theodore Dreiser Sexual content; abortion; murder 1925 N/A N/A
The Anarchist Cookbook William Powell Content related to the manufacturing of illicit narcotics and explosives 1971 N/A 59
Anastasia Krupnik (series) Lois Lowry References to beer, Playboy Magazine, and suicide 1979–1995 75 28
And Tango Makes Three Peter Parnell, Justin Richardson Content regarding homosexuality and same-sex marriage 2005 4 N/A
Animal Farm[7] George Orwell Political (Communist) commentary 1945 N/A N/A
Annie on My Mind Nancy Garden LGBT content 1982 N/A 44
Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging Louise Rennison Crude language, sexual content, LGBT content 1999 35 N/A
Arizona Kid Ron Koertge LGBT content 1988 N/A 75
Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. Judy Blume Content dealing with menstrual cycles and feminine hygiene 1970 99 60
Arming America Michael A. Bellesiles Content dealing with firearms, later proven to have been fabricated 2000 38 N/A
As I Lay Dying[7] William Faulkner Dealing with issues of death; abortion 1930 N/A N/A
Asking About Sex and Growing Up Joanna Cole 1988 N/A 57
Athletic Shorts: Six Short Stories Chris Crutcher Content dealing with eating disorders, child abuse, racism, LGBT themes and AIDS 1991 44 63
The Awakening[7] Kate Chopin Sexual content 1899 N/A N/A
A Bad Boy Can Be Good For a Girl[6] Tanya Lee Stone Crude language, sexual content, mature themes 2006 N/A N/A
Beloved Toni Morrison Themes regarding slavery; violence 1987 26 45
Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out Susan Kuklin Anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“wants to remove from collection to ward off complaints”). 2014
Big Hard Sex Criminals Matt Fraction, illustrated by Chip Zdarsky sexually explicit 2015 N/A N/A
Black Boy Richard Wright Themes of Communism, racism and atheism 1946 81 N/A
Bless Me, Ultima Rudolfo Anaya Profanity, crude language and violence 1972 32 78
Blood and Chocolate Annette Curtis Klause Sexual content; supernatural themes 1997 57 N/A
Blubber Judy Blume Content dealing with the issue of bullying 1974 43 30
The Bluest Eye Toni Morrison Themes of racism, incest and child sexual abuse 1970 15 34
Bone (series)[6] Jeff Smith References to smoking, drinking and gambling 1991–2004 N/A N/A
The Boy Who Lost His Face Louis Sachar Themes of the occult, sexuality and bullying; profanity 1989 92 46
Boys and Sex Wardell Pomeroy 1968 N/A 61
Brave New World Aldous Huxley Alleged anti-religion and anti-family themes; sexual content 1931 36 54
Brideshead Revisited[7] Evelyn Waugh Themes of homosexuality, alcoholism, infidelity 1945 N/A N/A
Bridge to Terabithia Katherine Paterson allegations that the book promotes secular humanism, New Age religion, occultism, and Satanism 1977 28 8
Bumps in the Night Harry Allard 1979 93 56
The Call of the Wild[7] Jack London 1903 N/A N/A
Captain Underpants (series) Dav Pilkey offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence [6] 1997–2015 13 N/A
Carrie Stephen King 1974 N/A 81
Cat's Cradle[7] Kurt Vonnegut 1963 N/A N/A
Catch-22[7] Joseph Heller 1961 N/A N/A
The Catcher in the Rye J. D. Salinger offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group[6] 1951 19 10
The Chocolate War Robert Cormier nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group[6] 1974 3 4
Christine Stephen King 1983 N/A 95
A Clockwork Orange[7] Anthony Burgess 1962 N/A N/A
The Color Purple Alice Walker offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group[6] 1982 17 17
The Color Trilogy (series)[6] Kim Dong Hwa nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group[6] 2009 N/A N/A
Crank[6] Ellen Hopkins drugs, offensive language, sexually explicit[6] 2004 N/A N/A
Crazy Benjamin Lebert 2000 77 N/A
Crazy Lady! Jane Leslie Conly offensive language[6] 1993 45 62
Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat Alvin Schwartz 1974 N/A 47
Cujo Stephen King 1983 N/A 49
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Mark Haddon Offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“profanity and atheism”).[6] 2003
Curses, Hexes and Spells Daniel Cohen 1974 N/A 71
Cut Patricia McCormick 2000 86 N/A
Daddy's Roommate Michael Willhoite 1991 N/A 2
Daughters of Eve Lois Duncan 1979 51 N/A
A Day No Pigs Would Die Robert Newton Peck 1972 80 16
The Dead Zone Stephen King 1979 N/A 82
Deal with It! Esther Drill 1999 82 N/A
Deenie Judy Blume 1973 N/A 42
Detour for Emmy Marilyn Reynolds 1993 83 N/A
Drama[6] Raina Telgemeier Includes LGBT characters, was deemed sexually explicit, and was considered to have an offensive political viewpoint[6] 2012 N/A N/A
Draw Me a Star Eric Carle 1992 61 N/A
The Drowning of Stephan Jones Bette Greene 1991 N/A 96
The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things Carolyn Mackler offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group[6] 2003 34 N/A
Earth's Children (series) Jean M. Auel 1980–2011 N/A 19
Eleanor & Park Rainbow Rowell offensive language[6] 2013 N/A N/A
The Face on the Milk Carton Caroline B. Cooney 1990 29 80
The Facts Speak For Themselves Brock Cole 1997 54 N/A
Fade Robert Cormier 1988 N/A 65
Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury 1953 69 N/A
Fallen Angels Walter Dean Myers offensive language, racism, violence[6] 1988 11 36
Family Secrets Norma Klein 1985 N/A 76
A Farewell to Arms[7] Ernest Hemingway 1929 N/A N/A
Fat Kid Rules the World KL Going 2003 58 N/A
Fight Club Chuck Palahniuk Sexually explicit, violence, anarchist themes, smoking, drinking, etc... 1996
Fifty Shades of Grey[6] E. L. James Sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and other (“poorly written,” “concerns that a group of teenagers will want to try it”).[6] 2011 N/A N/A
The Fighting Ground Avi 1984 42 N/A
Final Exit Derek Humphry 1991 N/A 29
Flashcards of My Life[6] Charise Mericle Harper 2006 N/A N/A
Flowers for Algernon Daniel Keyes 1966 N/A 43
For Whom the Bell Tolls[7] Ernest Hemingway 1940 N/A N/A
Forever... Judy Blume offensive language, sexual content[6] 1975 16 7
Friday Night Lights H. G. Bissinger 1990 89 N/A
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic Alison Bechdel Violence and other (“graphic images”).[6] 2006
George Alex Gino includes a transgender child, and the “sexuality was not appropriate at elementary levels” 2015 N/A N/A
The Giver Lois Lowry 1993 23 11
Girls and Sex Wardell Pomeroy 1970 N/A 98
The Glass Castle[6] Jeannette Walls offensive language, sexually explicit[6] 2005 N/A N/A
Go Ask Alice Anonymous drugs[6] 1971 18 25
Go Tell It on the Mountain[7] James Baldwin 1953 N/A N/A
The Goats Brock Cole 1987 N/A 26
Gone with the Wind[7] Margaret Mitchell 1936 N/A N/A
Goosebumps (series) R. L. Stine 1992–1997 94 15
Gossip Girl (series) Cecily von Ziegesar drugs, offensive language, sexually explicit[6] 2002–2011 22 N/A
The Grapes of Wrath[7] John Steinbeck 1939 N/A N/A
The Great Gatsby[7] F. Scott Fitzgerald Language and sexual references 1925 N/A N/A
The Great Gilly Hopkins Katherine Paterson 1978 52 20
Grendel John Gardner 1971 96 N/A
Guess What? Mem Fox 1990 N/A 66
Habibi Craig Thompson Nudity, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.[6] 2011
Halloween ABC Eve Merriam Possible Satanic and cult references, as well as violence 1987 N/A 31
The Handmaid's Tale Margaret Atwood Sexuality, profanity, suicide, violence, anti-Christian themes 1985 88 37
Harris and Me Gary Paulsen 1993 70 N/A
Harry Potter (series) J. K. Rowling Unsuited to age group, witchcraft, religious viewpoint, anti-family, darkness/scariness/violence, and for "setting bad examples". 1997–2007 1 48
Heather Has Two Mommies Lesléa Newman Homosexuality 1989 N/A 9
His Dark Materials (series) Philip Pullman political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, violence[6] 1995–2000 8 N/A
The Holy Bible various religious viewpoint, violence[6][3] Canon est. ca. 3rd century N/A N/A
The House of the Spirits Isabel Allende 1982 97 73
The Hunger Games[6] Suzanne Collins religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group[6] 2008–2010 N/A N/A
I Am Jazz Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings Inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint, and unsuited for age group.[6] 2014
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Maya Angelou Sexually explicit[6] 1969 6 3
I Saw Esau Iona Opie, Peter Opie 2000 98 N/A
In Cold Blood[7] Truman Capote 1966 N/A N/A
In the Night Kitchen Maurice Sendak nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit[6] 1970 24 21
Invisible Man[7] Ralph Ellison 1952 N/A N/A
It's Perfectly Normal Robie Harris nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. Additional reasons: “alleges it is child pornography”[6] 1994 12 13
It's So Amazing Robie Harris sex education, sexual content[6] 1999 37 N/A
Jack A. M. Homes 1990 N/A 74
James and the Giant Peach Roald Dahl 1961 N/A 50
The Joy of Gay Sex Charles Silverstein, Edmund White 1977 78 N/A
Julie of the Wolves Jean Craighead George Unsuited to age group, violence[6] 1972 91 32
Jump Ship to Freedom James Lincoln Collier, Christopher Collier 1981 N/A 100
Jumper Steven Gould 1992 N/A 94
The Jungle[7] Upton Sinclair 1906 N/A N/A
Junie B. Jones (series) Barbara Park 1992–2011 71 N/A
Kaffir Boy Mark Mathabane 1986 39 33
Killing Mr. Griffin Lois Duncan 1978 25 64
King & King Linda De Haan, Stern Nijland Homosexuality[6] 2002 20 N/A
The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence[6] 2003 50 N/A
Lady Chatterley's Lover[7] D. H. Lawrence 1928 N/A N/A
Life is Funny E.R. Frank 2000 40 N/A
A Light in the Attic Shel Silverstein 1981 N/A 51
Little Bill (children book series) Bill Cosby, illustrated by Varnette P. Honeywood criminal sexual allegations against the author[6] 1997-2000 N/A N/A
Lolita[7] Vladimir Nabokov 1955 N/A N/A
Looking for Alaska[6] John Green Offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group. 2005 N/A N/A
Lord of the Flies William Golding 1954 N/A 68
The Lord of the Rings[7] J. R. R. Tolkien 1954 N/A N/A
The Lovely Bones Alice Sebold 2002 74 N/A
Lush[6] Natasha Friend drugs, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group[6] 2006 N/A N/A
Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread Chuck Palahniuk profanity, sexual explicitness, and being “disgusting and all around offensive”[6] 2015 N/A N/A
Mein Kampf Adolf Hitler 1925 N/A
Mick Harte Was Here Barbara Park 1996 64 N/A
Mummy Laid an Egg Babette Cole 1994 N/A 77
My Brother Sam Is Dead James Lincoln Collier, Christopher Collier 1974 27 12
My Mom's Having a Baby![6] Dori Hillestad Butler 2005 N/A N/A
My Sister's Keeper[6] Jodi Picoult homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence[6] 2004 N/A N/A
The Naked and the Dead[7] Norman Mailer 1948 N/A N/A
Naked Lunch[7] William S. Burroughs 1959 N/A N/A
Nasreen's Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan Jeanette Winter Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, and violence[6] 2009 N/A N/A
Native Son Richard Wright 1940 N/A 69
The New Joy of Gay Sex Charles Silverstein, Edmund White, Felice Picano 1993 N/A 24
Nickel and Dimed[6] Barbara Ehrenreich drugs, inaccurate, offensive language, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint[6] 2001 N/A N/A
Nineteen Eighty-Four[7] George Orwell 1949 N/A N/A
Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck offensive language, racism, violence[6] 1937 5 6
Olive's Ocean Kevin Henkes 2003 59 N/A
On My Honor Marion Dane Bauer 1986 N/A 72
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Ken Kesey 1962 49 N/A
This One Summer Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki includes LGBT characters, drug use and profanity, and considered sexually explicit with mature themes 2014 N/A N/A
Ordinary People Judith Guest 1976 N/A 52
The Outsiders S. E. Hinton 1967 N/A 38
The Perks of Being a Wallflower Stephen Chbosky Drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation”[6] 1999 10 N/A
Persepolis (series)[6] Marjane Satrapi gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions”[6] 2000–2003 N/A N/A
The Pigman Paul Zindel 1968 N/A 39
The Pillars of the Earth Ken Follett 1989 N/A 91
A Prayer for Owen Meany John Irving 1989 76 N/A
Private Parts Howard Stern 1993 N/A 86
Rabbit, Run[7] John Updike 1960 N/A N/A
Rainbow Boys Alex Sánchez 2001 48 N/A
Revolutionary Voices[6] Amy Sonnie Homosexuality, sexually explicit[6] 2000 N/A N/A
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Mildred D. Taylor offensive language[6] 1976 66 N/A
Running Loose Chris Crutcher 1983 N/A 92
Saga (series)[6] Brian K. Vaughan Anti-family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group[6] 2012–present N/A N/A
The Satanic Verses[7] Salman Rushdie 1988 N/A N/A
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (series) Alvin Schwartz unsuited for age group, violence[6] 1981–1991 7 1
A Separate Peace[7] John Knowles 1959 N/A N/A
Sex Madonna 1992 N/A 18
Sex Education Jenny Davis 1995 N/A 93
Shade's Children Garth Nix 1997 95 N/A
Slaughterhouse-Five Kurt Vonnegut 1969 46 67
The Sleeping Beauty Quartet (series) Anne Rice 1983–2015 N/A 55
Snow Falling on Cedars David Guterson 1994 33 N/A
So Far from the Bamboo Grove Yoko Kawashima Watkins 1986 84 N/A
Song of Solomon Toni Morrison 1977 72 84
Sophie's Choice[7] William Styron 1979 N/A N/A
Sons and Lovers[7] D. H. Lawrence 1913 N/A N/A
Speak Laurie Halse Anderson 1999 60 N/A
Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes Chris Crutcher 1993 85 N/A
A Stolen Life[6] Jaycee Dugard drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group[6] 2011 N/A N/A
The Story of Little Black Sambo Helen Bannerman 1899 N/A 90
The Stupids (series) Harry Allard, James Marshall 1974–1989 62 27
Summer of My German Soldier Bette Greene offensive language, racism, sexually explicit[6] 1973 55 88
The Sun Also Rises[7] Ernest Hemingway 1926 N/A N/A
Taming the Star Runner[6] S. E. Hinton offensive language[6] 1988 N/A N/A
The Terrorist Caroline B. Cooney 1997 63 N/A
That Was Then, This Is Now S. E. Hinton 1971 N/A 97
Their Eyes Were Watching God[7] Zora Neale Hurston 1937 N/A N/A
The Things They Carried Tim O'Brien 1990 65 N/A
Thirteen Reasons Why[6] Jay Asher drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group[6] 2007 N/A N/A
Tiger Eyes Judy Blume 1981 87 89
A Time to Kill John Grisham References to slavery, rape, and the text includes racial slurs 1989 67 N/A
To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee offensive language, racism, unsuited to age group[6] 1960 21 40
Tropic of Cancer[7] Henry Miller 1934 N/A N/A
ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series) Lauren Myracle offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group[6] 2004–2007 9 N/A
Twilight (series)[6] Stephenie Meyer Religious viewpoint, violence, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group[6] 2005–2008 N/A N/A
Two Boys Kissing David Levithan Homosexuality and other (“condones public displays of affection”). Also considered to include sexually explicit LGBT content[6] 2013
Ulysses[7] James Joyce 1922 N/A N/A
Uncle Bobby's Wedding[6] Sarah S. Brannen 2008 N/A N/A
The Upstairs Room Johanna Reiss 1972 79 N/A
We All Fall Down Robert Cormier Offensive language, sexual content[6] 1991 30 41
Whale Talk Chris Crutcher Racism, offensive language[6] 2001 41 N/A
What My Mother Doesn't Know Sonya Sones Nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, sexism, unsuited to age group[6] 2001 31 N/A
What's Happening to My Body? Book for Boys Lynda Madaras 1987/2007 N/A 58
What's Happening to My Body? Book for Girls Lynda Madaras 1987/2007 73 35
When Dad Killed Mom Julius Lester 2001 56 N/A
Where Did I Come From? Peter Mayle 1973 N/A 79
Where's Waldo? Martin Handford 1987 N/A 87
The Wish Giver Bill Brittain 1983 N/A 99
The Witches Roald Dahl 1983 N/A 22
Women in Love[7] D. H. Lawrence 1920 N/A N/A
Women on Top Nancy Friday 1991 N/A 70
A Wrinkle in Time Madeleine L'Engle 1963 90 23
You Hear Me? Betsy Franco 2000 53 N/A

Note: The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) does not claim comprehensiveness in recording challenges. Research suggests that for each challenge reported there are as many as four or five which go unreported.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Banned & Challenged Books". American Library Association. Retrieved January 26, 2016. 
  2. ^ "About Banned & Challenged Books". American Library Association. Retrieved January 26, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b "Top Ten Challenged Books: Resources & Graphics". American Library Association. Retrieved 2017-10-18. 
  4. ^ "Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009". American Library Association. Retrieved January 26, 2016. 
  5. ^ "100 most frequently challenged books: 1990–1999". American Library Association. Retrieved January 26, 2016. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw bx by "Top ten frequently challenged books lists of the 21st century". American Library Association. Retrieved January 26, 2016. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai "Banned & Challenged Classics". American Library Association. Retrieved January 26, 2016. 
  8. ^ "100 most frequently challenged books by decade | Banned & Challenged Books". Retrieved 2016-05-10. 

External links[edit]