This One Summer, the award-winning, widely-acclaimed graphic novel written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki – both guests at this year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival in October – has topped the 2016 list of most frequently challenged books released by the American Library Association ahead of Banned Books Week 2017 later this year.
The book was one of three graphic novels in the list: Drama by Raina Telgemeier and Big Hard Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky – also a guest at LICAF -was also in the top ten.
According to the ALA report, reasons for challenging This One Summer, which has earned much kudos since its release in 2014 (Bookmunch described it as “stand out”), included: LGBT characters, drug use and profanity, and sexually explicit situations. Reasons for challenging Drama included: LGBT characters, sexually explicit, and was considered to have an offensive political viewpoint. Big Hard Sex Criminals was challenged for being considered sexually explicit.
The outstanding This One Summer won a 2015 Printz Honor and Caldecott Honor award, along with the 2015 Eisner Award and the 2014 Ignatz Award for Outstanding Graphic Novel, but libraries in Minnesota and Florida removed This One Summer from their shelves last year after parents complained of the book’s use of profanity and mature themes.
After the incident in Florida, Mariko Tamaki said that the book is “listed as being for readers ranging 12–18”, and “contains depictions of young people talking about, and dealing with, adult things.” However, she stated that she thinks it is an important book for young people.
The removals from libraries were challenged by the National Coalition Against Censorship.
In 2015, despite being first published some ten years ago Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel was in the Top Ten along with Habibi by Craig Thompson; and in 2014, the list included Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi, described by one complainant as “politically, racially, and socially offensive.” Saga, by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples was also the subject of complaint.
The ALA condemns censorship and works to ensure free access to information. Every year, the Office for Intellectual Freedom compiles a list of the Top Ten Most Challenged Books in order to inform the public about censorship in libraries and schools. The lists are based on anecdotal data derived from media stories and voluntary challenge reports sent to OIF from communities across the United States.
Banned Books Week will take place 24th – 30th September 2017, an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. The Week brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers — in shared support of the freedom to seek and express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.
To continue to raise awareness about the harms of censorship and the freedom to read, the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) publishes an annual list of the Top Ten Most Challenged Books, using information from public challenges reported in the media, as well as censorship reports submitted to the office through its challenge reporting form.
• You can find out which books made the Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2016 and explore Top Ten talking points, infographics and social media art on the Top Ten resource page on the ALA web site.
• View the 2017 State of America’s Library Report for more information on censorship, library trends and research
The Full 2016 List
Compiled from 323 challenges recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom.
- This One Summer written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
Reasons: challenged because it includes LGBT characters, drug use and profanity, and it was considered sexually explicit with mature themes
- Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
Reasons: challenged because it includes LGBT characters, was deemed sexually explicit, and was considered to have an offensive political viewpoint
- George written by Alex Gino
Reasons: challenged because it includes a transgender child, and the “sexuality was not appropriate at elementary levels”
- I Am Jazz written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
Reasons: challenged because it portrays a transgender child and because of language, sex education, and offensive viewpoints
- Two Boys Kissing written by David Levithan
Reasons: challenged because its cover has an image of two boys kissing, and it was considered to include sexually explicit LGBT content
- Looking for Alaska written by John Green
Reasons: challenged for a sexually explicit scene that may lead a student to “sexual experimentation”
- Big Hard Sex Criminals written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by Chip Zdarsky
Reason: challenged because it was considered sexually explicit
- Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread written by Chuck Palahniuk
Reasons: challenged for profanity, sexual explicitness, and being “disgusting and all around offensive”
- Little Bill (series) written by Bill Cosby and and illustrated by Varnette P. Honeywood
Reason: challenged because of criminal sexual allegations against the author
- Eleanor & Park written by Rainbow Rowell
Reason: challenged for offensive language