12 Must-Read Banned Books By Writers of Color

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm Oct 01, 2020

Every year, the American Library Association (ALA) marks Banned Books Week (September 27 to October 3, 2020) with a list that includes current and past attempts to censor books in schools and libraries. This year’s “Top 100 Most Banned and Challenged Books,” which lifts up the "most banned and challenged books" of the last decade, features 12 titles that were written by authors of color.

The list was compiled by the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF), which reviewed public and confidential censorship reports. While the list highlights documented challenges, the organization estimates that “about 82-97 percent of challenges remain unreported.” CNN reports that books that focus on LGBTQ+ themes are often over-represented on the annual list. 

Toni Morrison, who has been a target of censorship for years, made the list twice—for “The Bluest Eye” and “Beloved.” Pen America kicked off the week with a letter to school district officials in San Bernardino County, California, urging them to reinstate “The Bluest Eye.” Per the Los Angeles Times, the letter says that “the decision to remove this book is educationally and constitutionally unsound. We urge you to reinstate the book as soon as possible.” The district reportedly reinstated the title.

In addition to Morrison’s books, ten other titles by authors of colors made the list. See the books below and their corresponding positions on the list. For the complete 100, visit ALA.

1. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie

10. "The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison

11. “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini

30. “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas

43. “This One Summer” by Mariko Tamaki

45. “Beloved” by Toni Morrison

50. “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker

65. “Dreaming In Cuban” by Cristina García

71. “The House of the Spirits” by Isabel Allende

88. “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou

94. “So Far from the Bamboo Grove” by Yoko Kawashima Watkins

95. “The Color of Earth” (series) by Tong-hwa Kim