Hundreds of individuals in the U.S. issue challenges to their local schools or libraries every year, attempting to get certain books banned. The typical reasoning is that the book in question highlights or endorses a value that the challenger doesn’t hold, and doesn’t want their child exposed to.
As a result, the running list of the top most challenged book titles in the U.S. — operated by the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom — offers a unique window into the state of the union: Any hot-button topics that parents are the most up in arms about will be revealed through the books that they found most offensive.
The eleven most popular titles on the list for 2018 include plenty of titles from previous top-ten lists of banned books: George, by Alex Gino, a Lambda Literary Award-winner for elementary-age children that features a transgender child, was the number one most challenged book in 2018, after reaching number five in 2017. 2017’s number one, Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher, dropped to number six on the 2018 list.
The biggest new addition this year, however, is A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, which was the second most challenged book of 2018. Written by Jill Twiss and illustrated by EG Keller, the children’s book details a fictionalized look at the life of Marlon Bundo, the real pet rabbit of Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence. It was banned and challenged for “political and religious viewpoints,” proving that the U.S.’s polarized politics are leading the way in book bans as well as driving millions in book sales.
Here’s the full list of the top most challenged books of 2018, from the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom:
- George by Alex GinoReasons: banned, challenged, and relocated because it was believed to encourage children to clear browser history and change their bodies using hormones, and for mentioning “dirty magazines,” describing male anatomy, “creating confusion,” and including a transgender character
- A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG KellerReasons: banned and challenged for including LGBTQIA+ content, and for political and religious viewpoints
- Captain Underpants series written and illustrated by Dav PilkeyReasons: series was challenged because it was perceived as encouraging disruptive behavior, while Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-A-Lot was challenged for including a same-sex couple
- The Hate U Give by Angie ThomasReasons: banned and challenged because it was deemed “anti-cop,” and for profanity, drug use, and sexual references
- Drama written and illustrated by Raina TelgemeierReasons: banned and challenged for including LGBTQIA+ characters and themes
- Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay AsherReasons: banned, challenged, and restricted for addressing teen suicide
- This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian TamakiReasons: banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references, and certain illustrations
- Skippyjon Jones series written and illustrated by Judy SchachnerReason: challenged for depicting stereotypes of Mexican culture
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman AlexieReasons: banned and challenged for sexual references, profanity, violence, gambling, and underage drinking, and for its religious viewpoint
- This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman, illustrated by Kristyna LittenReason: challenged and burned for including LGBTQIA+ content
- Two Boys Kissing by David LevithanReason: challenged and burned for including LGBTQIA+ content