“Censorship is a Dead End. Find Your Freedom to Read” – Banned Books Week 2020

-blog post by Megan Franks, Late Night Library Supervisor

Every year, the American Library Association dedicates a week to the phenomenon of banned books and censorship. This year, that week falls on September 27th thru October 3rd. In addition to a display on banned books in the Smith Library, we’d like to highlight some of the Top 10 Challenged Titles from 2019, as well as some interesting statistics on censorship.

According to the American Library Association, a challenge is defined as an “attempt to remove or restrict materials or services based on content”. Challenges are mainly raised about books – 56% of the 377 challenges tracked by the ALA in 2019 were raised over books. Other materials and events in libraries are challenged as well – events, movies, magazines, etc.

Who’s raising these challenges? Of those challenges reported in 2019, 45% were initiated by library patrons. Challenges occur in almost every type of library – public libraries, school libraries, even university libraries.

What kind of content is challenged? All types. From those 377 reports from 2019, the reasons cited for a challenge ranged from “LGBTQIA+ Content” to “Grammatically Incorrect”. For example, 8 of the Top Ten Most Challenged Titles from 2019 were challenged for including LGBTQIA+ content.

Below, we highlight three of the Top 10 Challenged Titles of 2019, available to check out from HPU Libraries. Click the link under the title to check our availability.


George, by Alex Gino


“When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl. George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part … because she’s a boy. With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte — but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.”


Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin


“Author and photographer Susan Kuklin met and interviewed six transgender or gender-neutral young adults and used her considerable skills to represent them thoughtfully and respectfully before, during, and after their personal acknowledgment of gender preference. Portraits, family photographs, and candid images grace the pages, augmenting the emotional and physical journey each youth has taken. Each honest discussion and disclosure, whether joyful or heartbreaking, is completely different from the other because of family dynamics, living situations, gender, and the transition these teens make in recognition of their true selves.”—


The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood


“A gripping vision of our society radically overturned by a theocratic revolution, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale has become one of the most powerful and most widely read novels of our time. Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, serving in the household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife. She may go out once a day to markets whose signs are now pictures because women are not allowed to read. She must pray for the Commander to make her pregnant, for in a time of declining birthrates her value lies in her fertility, and failure means exile to the dangerously polluted Colonies. Offred can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost even her own name. Now she navigates the intimate secrets of those who control her every move, risking her life in breaking the rules.”