Every year, the American Library Association (ALA) tracks hundreds of challenges to books in schools and libraries all over the United States. The ALA estimates that the unreported number of challenges is significantly higher.
Book bans generally start with a challenge — a verbal or formal written attempt to restrict access to materials or to remove them entirely. A ban happens when those materials are actually removed from shelves, classrooms or performance spaces.
The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 156 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services in 2020.
Of the 273 books that were targeted, here are the most challenged and banned books, along with the reasons cited for censoring them:
Censorship thrives in ignorance. The best way to prevent it is to make sure that free expression advocates know it’s happening. Several members of the Banned Books Week Coalition are prepared to take direct action to fight censorship.
Use the following contact information to let them know when books, comics, plays, art and journalism are under threat!
• Report censorship to the American Library Association at www.ala.org/tools/challengesupport/report
• Report censorship to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund by calling 1-888-88-CBLDF or emailing
• Report censorship to the National Coalition Against Censorship at ncac.org/report-censorship
• Report censorship to the National Council of Teachers of English by completing the form at secure.ncte.org/forms/reportcensorship or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
• Report censorship at colleges and universities to FIRE at www.thefire.org/resources/submit-a-case/