Books under Fire: A Hit List of Banned and Challenged Children's Books, Second Edition

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  • Description
  • Table of Contents
  • About the authors
  • Reviews

Featuring a timely and diverse cross-section of frequently targeted titles, complete with many quotes and comments from authors whose works have been challenged, this book will be an important tool for library managers, children's and YA librarians, and teachers.

In our polarized environment, the censorship and outright banning of children’s books which some deem to be controversial or objectionable remains a major concern for libraries. Intellectual freedom champion Scales returns to the fray with a new edition of her matchless guide, updating the focus to titles published since 2015 which have been the target of challenges. School and public librarians, LIS students, and classroom educators will find the assistance and support they need to defend these challenged books with an informed response while ensuring access to young book lovers. For each of the dozens of titles covered, readers will find

  • a book summary;
  • a report of the specific challenges; 
  • quotes from reviews, plus a list of awards and accolades; 
  • talking points for discussing the book's issues and themes; 
  • links to the book's website, additional resources about the book, and suggested further reading; and 
  • read-alikes that have been challenged for similar reasons.

Examination copies are available for instructors who are interested in adopting this title for course use.

Foreword, by Deborah Caldwell-Stone

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher
Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress, by Christine Baldacchino
Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story about Racial Injustice, by Marianne Celano and Marietta Collins 
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky 
Al Capone Does My Shirts, by Gennifer Choldenko
The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963, by Christopher Paul Curtis 
Lily and Dunkin, by Donna Gephart 
George, by Alex Gino 
Looking for Alaska, by John Green
Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Greene
Prince & Knight, by Daniel Haack
It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health, by Robie Harris
The Popularity Papers series, by Amy Ignatow
I Am Jazz, by Jazz Jennings 
The Giver, by Lois Lowry
Monster, by Walter Dean Myers
Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
The Best Man, by Richard Peck
Captain Underpants series, by Dav Pilkey
This Day in June, by Gayle E. Pitman
In Our Mothers’ House, by Patricia Polacco
And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson
Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell
The Harry Potter series, by J. K. Rowling
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series, by Alvin Schwartz 
Bone series, by Jeff Smith
This One Summer, by Mariko Tamaki
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor
Drama, by Raina Telgemeier
The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, by Jill Twiss
Nasreen’s Secret School, by Jeanette Winter


  •     Appendix A    Resources for Teaching Young Readers about the First Amendment
  •     Appendix B    Bibliography: Professional Resources about Book Censorship and the Freedom to Read
  •     Appendix C    Rankings of Children’s and Young Adult Books in the Top 100 Most Banned or Challenged Books List: 2010–2019
  •     Appendix D    Children’s Classics and Why They Have Been Challenged
  •     Appendix E    Caldecott Medal and Honor Books: Why They Have Been Challenged
  •     Appendix F     John Newbery Medal and Honor Books: Why They Have Been Challenged


Pat R. Scales

Pat R. Scales is a retired middle and high school librarian whose programs have been featured on the Today Show and in various professional journals. She has also served as an adjunct instructor of children’s and young adult literature at Furman University and has been a guest lecturer at universities across the nation. A First Amendment advocate, she is a former chair of ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee and serves on the Board of Advisors of the National Coalition against Censorship. She is a past president of the Association of Library Service for Children, and in 2011 received the Distinguished Service Award. She chaired the 1992 Newbery Award Committee, the 2003 Caldecott Award Committee, and the 2001 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award Committee. She writes for Book Links magazine and a bimonthly column for School Library Journal. Her books include Books under Fire: A Hit List of Banned and Challenged Children's Books, Second EditionTeaching Banned Books: 32 Guides for Children and Teens, Second Edition, and Protecting Intellectual Freedom in Your School Library. She was recipient of The Freedom to Read Foundation's 2023 Roll of Honor Award.

Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF)

ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) is charged with implementing the intellectual freedom policies of the American Library Association through educating librarians and the public about the concept of intellectual freedom as embodied in the Library Bill of Rights, the Association's basic policy on free access to libraries and library materials. In order to meet its educational goals, the Office undertakes information, support, and coordination activities.

"This comprehensive look at challenged books and their merits should prove an invaluable tool for librarians looking to spark thoughtful conversation in the face of attempted censorship. The appendix includes a thorough list of essays and resources for librarians facing a title challenge; The exhaustive index is a great tool as well."
— Booklist

Praise for the first edition

"This is an excellent directory, guiding professionals to articles, books, and websites that will assist in helping to protect that right, providing an arsenal of information from creating a display to raise awareness to having a conversation with a concerned reader. Concise and clear, this 'hit list' is a must-have for any professional collection and also an inspiration for reading some titles never explored before—controversy will always make a title more enticing."

"Contains a veritable arsenal of information to employ when the book challenger comes knocking at the library's door … clearly indispensable and belongs in every library collection."
— Booklist (starred review)

"Any youth librarian that has this title within easy reach will be ready to program with challenged materials, discuss intellectual freedom issues with kids and grown ups, and respond intelligently to book challenges."
— School Library Journal