Banned Books Week

What Is Banned Books Week?

September 26 – October 2 is Banned Books Week. According to the Banned Books Week Coalition, “Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular. The theme of this year’s event is ‘Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.’”

The BPL is commemorating Banned Books Week by highlighting some of the most challenged books throughout time. Follow us on Instagram (@bplboston) to see our daily stories featuring different banned books in a variety of categories. You can even test your knowledge of classic book covers on October 3!

Check out our librarians' top picks of most challenged books! Click through to see the full list of books in each category, or visit the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom’s website.

Content Warning: Some of the books listed below have been challenged due to references to sexual assault, substance abuse, and other potentially triggering topics.

Top Banned Books of 2020



All American Boys

Something Happened in Our Town

The Hate U Give

See the full list here.

Top Banned Books of the 1990's

The Color Purple

The Handmaid's Tale

Kaffir Boy

Flowers for Algernon

The House of the Spirits

See the full list here.

Top Banned Books of the 2000's

Fahrenheit 451

Brave New World

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Of Mice and Men

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

See the full list here.

Top Banned Books of the 2010's

Fifty Shades of Grey

The Bluest Eye

The Kite Runner

To Kill A Mockingbird

The Glass Castle

See the full list here.

Banned Children's Books

The Witches


The Family Book

A Light in the Attic

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

See the full list here.

Banned Teens' Books

Annie on My Mind

The Fault in Our Stars

When I Was Puerto Rican

The Midnight Club

Vampire Academy

See the full list here.

Diverse Banned Books

The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Fun Home

Invisible Man

A Gathering of Old Men


See the full list here.

Banned Classics


Slaughterhouse-five, Or, The Children's Crusade

Native Son

The Catcher in the Rye

The Satanic Verses

See the full list here.