A Comprehensive List of Banned YA Books

Happy Banned Book Week! Banned Book Week started in 1982 as a result of the increase in the number of books people were trying to get banned from schools and libraries. We’re celebrating the freedom to read by sharing all of the modern YA banned books we could find. We used information provided by libraries and the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom to find banned and challenged books.

We encourage everyone to read banned books because if someone wants a book banned, there’s usually something important inside the cover for you to learn. Always question people who try to ban books and especially question their intent.

“Banning books gives us silence when we need speech. It closes our ears when we need to listen. It makes us blind when we need sight.” — Stephen Chbosky, author of Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

The Poet X was banned because of it’s themes of sexuality and struggling in a religious household. Xiomara Batista lives with her very Catholic mother, who forces her to obey they laws of the church. Xiomara uses her poetry to escape her overbearing household and let out her feelings.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian follows Junior, a boy growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to make a career as a cartoonist, Junior leaves his troubled school to attend an all-white high school…with an Indian as the school mascot. The book was criticized for it’s mention of bullying, sex, violence and alcohol.

Me, Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Me, Early and the Dying Girl was seen as too sexually explicit, especially for its intended teen audience. It’s about Greg, a social outcast who likes making movies with his best friend Earl. Everything changes when his mom forces him to reconnect with his childhood friend Rachel.

13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Even if you haven’t seen the Netflix show, we assume you’ve heard of 13 Reasons Why, which follows the aftermath of Hannah Baker’s suicide and the tapes she left for the people in her life. This emotional book was banned for it’s mention of suicide and graphic scenes.

Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of the best known YA books. It follows Charlie as he tells the story of his life in the form of letters, which helps him with his mental health struggles. This book was banned for talking about mental health, homosexuality and alcohol/drug use.

The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare

The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare is part of the Shadowhunter Chronicles. This trilogy follows Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood as their European vacation gets messed up by demon attacks. The first book in this trilogy is being challenged in Texas because of rebellious behavior and “immoral” activities.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games is a series that all readers know about. Even if you haven’t read it, we’re certain you know the basics of the plot. One of the main reasons this series is banned is because of the violence. The other reasons include offensive language, being anti-family and being satanic. The last one makes no sense considering religion is not mentioned.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

An Abundance of Katherines was banned just for it’s discussion of sex. We couldn’t find another reason for this book being banned and challenged in Texas. This book follows a guy named Colin who has dated 19 girls named Katherine and goes on a quest for self-discovery.

Looking For Alaska by John Green

Looking for Alaska is one of the most thought-provoking and powerful YA books. What starts out as a book about teen angst turns into a story of love, friendship and loss. While it is a dark book, with the story being split into two parts: before and after, we think it’s a story teens should read in high school. Looking for Alaska is banned because of mentions of suicide, depression and use of alcohol/drugs.

Paper Towns by John Green

Paper Towns is another John Green book that has been banned by school districts. We were surprised when we saw this book on the list because we had no idea why a book about students going on a road trip would get banned. Turns out some parents didn’t like the use of adult language and the mention of masturbation by the MC.

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

I bet it’s no surprise why Two Boys Kissing is a banned book, which is very sad. Levithan’s book is banned because of it’s LGBTQ+ content, which is great for young people who are struggling with their sexuality to find representation. While LGBTQ+ books are more common now, Two Boys Kissing was published in 2013. Because of this, it was one of the most challenged books during the 2010s.

Wake by Lisa McMann

It’s been many years since we’ve read Wake. It’s about a girl who falls into people’s dreams and can’t help it. Meaning, she sees everything — from scary nightmares to steamy fantasies. Wake has been challenged and banned in schools because of adult language and the “promotion” of sex.

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

We assumed Vampire Academy was banned because of magic, which is a common theme for fantasy. It was actually banned for it’s sexual content. The series was so controversial for some parents that it lead to the last book in the series being banned before publication.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

All the Bright Places is one of the books on this list we haven’t read, so we were interested in why it was banned. Apparently, parents found this romantic and heartbreaking story to be too “pornographic.”

Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison

Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging is hilarious coming of age story, which was turned into a popular movie. Georgia is trying to give her life a makeover, which includes getting the new hottest guy in town to be her boyfriend. It’s been banned and challenged because of sexual content, which is hilarious because even the movie is only PG.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor and Park is a popular YA book set in the 1980s and follows two teens struggling with their lives. It’s banned for it’s use of adult language and sexual content, which seems to be a common theme for YA books.

Harry Potter by J.K Rowling

Harry Potter is one of the most popular book series and one of the most banned. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the reason for this is because parents think the series promotes witchcraft and it anti-religion sentiments.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is banned for LGBTQ+ romantic content and it’s mention of sex. Apparently some parents don’t want their kids to read about a discussion of sexuality and race set in the 1980s.

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Scythe is a dark and violent book set in a dystopian world years in the future, where mortality has been solved, leading to the government to establish a population control. This book has been banned because of it’s violence and it’s “inappropriate content” for students.

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Unwind is a dark YA dystopian series set after the Second Civil War. It’s also a commentary on how hypocritical pro-life people tend to be (we’re obviously pro-choice!) That’s part of the reason this series is banned, with the other reasons including sex and adult content.

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Dear Martin, sadly, is banned in many school districts in the American South for its commentary on racial discrimination. We read an interview with Stone that discussed her popular novel being banned in school districts. It’s powerful because she explains that, “I think what people do not realize or think about when they decide to ban a book is that you’re telling the kids who are like the characters in the book that they are not welcome in certain spaces.” – Nic Stone

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

Angie Thomas’s book On the Come Up follows Bri, who is trying to start a career in the hip hop industry. The main reason this book seems to be banned is because of the use of profanity throughout the story.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Angie Thomas became an overnight sensation with The Hate U Give, which was even turned into a movie. It’s a powerful commentary on police brutality and racism in modern America. However, the themes made some parents uncomfortable, leading to banning it over the language used and the “anti-police message.”

Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar

Gossip Girl was a popular YA series in the early 2000s before it became a CW show. Both follow the lives of the Upper East Side elite. Gossip Girl has been banned over it’s character’s participating in “sexual misconduct” and the adult language used. Even the show was targeted by parents, which the show ended up using for advertising.

Published by I'm All Booked Up YA

We write recommendations and reviews for YA books.

24 thoughts on “A Comprehensive List of Banned YA Books

  1. This is a great list! We really enjoyed Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, Perks of Being a Wallflower, and the Hunger Games! Thank you for sharing, and keep an eye out for our upcoming post on our selections regarding banned books!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I didn’t realize Unwind was on the list. That book was a Texas Lone Star Book. I had to read it in eighth (maybe seventh?) grade and pass a small quiz on it to gain points toward a free field trip.

    Quite a terrible fall to go from a book encouraged for all students in Texas to read to banned. It also kind of proves that they’re just finding books to ban (and complain) about. Because they had no problem with that book before.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve read half of these, and they’ve all been fantastic! The adults who banned them 1. have obviously forgotten what it’s like to be a teenager, and 2. horribly underestimate their intelligence.

    Liked by 1 person

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