Banned and Challenged Books Info List

Below, we’ve collected Lerner and Lerner Publisher Services titles that have faced challenges or bans in schools or libraries. Find a brief summary of each title, along with reviews, awards, and supplemental teaching resources where available. If you’re seeking resources to combat challenges in your school or library, see our blog post here.

Losing the Girl
MariNaomi

Interest Level: Grades 9 – 12
Reading Level: Grade 7

When Claudia Jones goes missing, her classmates think the worst . . . or at least the weirdest. It couldn’t be an alien abduction, right? Eisner-nominated cartoonist MariNaomi looks at the perils of teenage life—including possible otherworldly disappearances.

“[The] creative artistic effects amplify the tension and awkward emotions, transforming a familiar story of young love into something memorable and new.”—Publishers Weekly

  • Texas Maverick Graphic Novels Reading List, Winner, 2019

Out of Darkness
Ashley Hope Pérez

Interest Level: Grades 8 – 12
Reading Level: Grades 7

Set against the back drop of one of the worst school tragedies in American history, Out of Darkness is a brutal and gripping novel about race, segregation, love, and the forces that destroy people.

  • Lincoln Award: Illinois Teen Readers’ Choice Master List, Long-listed, 2017
  • Virginia Readers’ Choice Award Reading List Selection, Long-listed, 2017
  • Garden State Teen Book Award Nominee, Nominated, 2017
  • Notable Award Booklist’s 50 Best YA Books of All Time, Winner, 2017
  • Notable Award Children’s Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children’s Book of the Year, Winner, 2016
  • Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) Choices, Winner, 2016
  • Tomás Rivera Book Award, Winner, 2016
  • Notable Award YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, Winner, 2016
  • Notable Award Michael L. Printz Honor Book, Commended, 2016
  • Writers’ League of Texas Discovery Prize, Winner, 2016
  • Notable Award Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award Finalist, Short-listed, 2015
  • ACL Distinguished Book, Winner, 2015
  • Notable Award Kirkus Best Teen Books of the Year, Winner, 2015
  • Notable Award School Library Journal Best Book, Winner, 2015
  • Tayshas Reading List, Winner, 2015

★“This book presents a range of human nature, from kindness and love to acts of racial and sexual violence. The work resonates with fear, hope, love, and the importance of memory. . . . Set against the backdrop of an actual historical event, Pérez . . . gives voice to many long-omitted facets of U.S. history.”―starred, School Library Journal

NCSS StandardsCivic Ideals and Practices
Culture
Individual Development and Identity
Individuals, Groups, and Institutions
Power, Authority, and Governance
Time, Continuity, and Change

Tell Me: What Children Really Want to Know about Bodies, Sex, and Emotions
Katharina von der Gathen

Interest Level: Grades 3 – 8
Reading Level: Grades 4


Tell Me collects 99 questions asked anonymously by children, paired with honest, simple answers and cartoons. This is a warm and open conversation-starter for parents and for children to read together or on their own.

“Funny and frank, this will be an important resource for many kids.”—Kirkus Reviews

Ada Bryon Lovelace & the Thinking Machine
Laurie Wallmark

Interest Level: Grades PreK – 6
Reading Level: Grade 2

When Ada Lovelace meets Charles Babbage, the inventor of the first mechanical computer, she understands the machine better than anyone else and writes the world’s first computer program in order to demonstrate its capabilities.

  • 2016 Amelia Bloomer List, Winner, 2016
  • Notable Award Bank Street College of Education’s Best Children’s Books of the Year 2016 Outstanding Merit Selection, Winner, 2016
  • Notable Award Cook Prize Honor Book, Commended, 2016
  • Notable Award NSTA/CBC Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12, Commended, 2016
  • Notable Award Booklist Editors’ Choice: Books for Youth, 2015., Winner, 2015

★“An excellent addition to STEM collections.”—starred, School Library Journal

★“A beautiful tribute to this female computer pioneer.”—starred, Booklist

★“[A]n inspiring and informative account of 19th-century mathematician Lovelace.”—starred, Publishers Weekly

★“A splendidly inspiring introduction to an unjustly overlooked woman.”—starred, Kirkus Reviews

Downloadable Teaching Resource: https://lernerbooks.com/teaching_guides/459

Can I Touch Your Hair?: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship
Irene Latham and Charles Waters

Interest Level: Grades 3 – 6
Reading Level: Grade 4

Irene and Charles don’t know each other . . . and they’re not sure they want to. But when they’re assigned a poetry project together, they begin exploring their different experiences of race, from hair to family dinners.

  • Utah Beehive Award Nominee, Nominated, 2020
  • Blue Hen Book Award Nominee, Nominated, 2020
  • William Allen White Children’s Book Awards Master List, Winner, 2020
  • Great Lakes Great Books Award Nominee, Nominated, 2020
  • Notable Award NCTE Notable Poetry Books, Winner, 2019
  • Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Awards Nominee, Nominated, 2019
  • White Ravens, Winner, 2019
  • Notable Award ALA Notable Children’s Books, Winner, 2019
  • Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction Honor Book, Runner-up, 2019
  • Cybils Finalist, Short-listed, 2018
  • Notable Award Kirkus Best Middle-Grade Books of the Year, Winner, 2018

★“[D]elicately demonstrate[s] the complexity of identity and the power of communication to build friendships.”—starred, Publishers Weekly

★“A fresh approach to exploring interracial communication. . . . A brave and touching portrayal worthy of sharing in classrooms across America.”—starred, Kirkus Reviews

Hey, Charleston!: The True Story of the Jenkins Orphanage Band
Anne Rockwell

Interest Level: Grades 2 – 5
Reading Level: Grades 2

What happened when a former slave took beat-up old instruments and gave them to orphans? A great American art form was born. Hey, Charleston! brings this fascinating moment of African American history to life.

  • Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice Nominee, Nominated, 2015
  • South Carolina Book Award Nominee, Nominated, 2015
  • Jefferson Cup Award Honorable Mention, Commended, 2015
  • Notable Award Carter G. Woodson Book Award, Winner, 2014
  • Notable Award Children’s Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children’s Book of the Year, Winner, 2014
  • Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) Choices, Winner, 2014
  • Missouri State Teacher’s Association Reading Circle Selection, Winner, 2014

Downloadable Teaching Resource: https://lernerbooks.com/teaching_guides/40

NCSS StandardsCulture
Individual Development and Identity
Individuals, Groups, and Institutions
Power, Authority, and Governance
Time, Continuity, and Change
Correlations Standards SubjectsLanguage Arts
Social Studies

Locked Up for Freedom: Civil Rights Protesters at the Leesburg Stockade
Heather E. Schwartz

Interest Level: Grades 5 – 8
Reading Level: Grade 5

More than 30 African American girls ages 11 to 16 were confined in a stockade after taking part in Civil Rights protests in 1963. While they were imprisoned, their commitment to the struggle for equality was put to the test.

  • Cybils Finalist, Nominated, 2018
  • Notable Award NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, Winner, 2018
  • Notable Award Children’s Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children’s Book of the Year, Winner, 2018
  • Jefferson Cup Honor Book, Winner, 2018
  • Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books, Winner, 2017
  • New York Public Library Best Books for Kids, Winner, 2017
  • VOYA Nonfiction Honor List, Winner, 2017

★“A story that needs to be told. The solid research and concise narrative make it a fine addition to most student-centered ­collections.”—School Library Journal

The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth & Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore 
Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

Interest Level: Grades 2 – 4
Reading Level: Grade 2

Lewis’s dad said he had an itch he needed to scratch—a book itch. How to scratch it? He started the National Memorial African Bookstore. It became a center of black culture and a home to activists like Malcolm X.

  • Notable Award NCTE Notable Children’s Book in the Language Arts, Winner, 2016
  • Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Honor Book, Commended, 2016
  • Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) Choices, Winner, 2016
  • William Allen White Children’s Book Awards Master List, Long-listed, 2016
  • Notable Award Children’s Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children’s Book of the Year, Winner, 2016
  • Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Awards Honor, Commended, 2015
  • ACL Distinguished Book, Winner, 2015
  • Notable Award Kirkus Best Children’s Books, Winner, 2015
  • Notable Award Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor, Commended, 2015
  • Notable Award ALA Notable Children’s Books, Winner, 2015

★“This companion to No Crystal Stair (2012) introduces younger readers to Nelson’s great uncle, Lewis Michaux Sr., owner of Harlem’s National Memorial African Bookstore. . . . [T]his moving tribute should be a welcome addition to almost any collection.”—starred, Booklist

★“From the author’s heart to America’s readers: a tribute to a man who believed in and lived black pride.”—starred, Kirkus Reviews

NCSS StandardsCivic Ideals and Practices
Culture
Individual Development and Identity
Individuals, Groups, and Institutions
Power, Authority, and Governance
Time, Continuity, and Change
Correlations Standards SubjectsLanguage Arts
Social Studies

Lovely
Jess Hong

Interest Level:Grades PreK – 2
Reading Level: Grade 2

Big, small, curly, straight, loud, quiet, smooth, wrinkly. Lovely explores a world of differences that all add up to the same thing: we are all lovely!

  • Notable Award 2018 Bank Street Collection Best Children’s Books of the Year Under Five, Winner, 2018

Downloadable Teaching Resource: https://lernerbooks.com/teaching_guides/467

101 Questions about Reproduction, 2nd Edition: Or How 1 + 1 = 3 or 4 or More
Faith Hickman Brynie

Interest Level: Grades 6 – 12
Reading Level: Grade 8

How do living things reproduce? How do twins, triplets, and other multiple births happen? How does fertilization occur? Find out in this frank and accessible look at reproduction. Set up in a straightforward question and answer format, this informative title asks and answers questions about the basic scientific and social aspects of reproduction. Written in a conversational tone that draws readers in, 101 Questions about Reproduction is the perfect resource for biology and health classes, reference libraries, and more.

NCSS StandardsScience, Technology, and Society
NSES StandardsHistory and Nature of Science
Life Science
Unifying Concepts and Processes
BSL StandardsThe Human Organism
Correlations Standards SubjectsLanguage Arts
Science
Social Studies

101 Questions about Sex and Sexuality, 2nd Edition: With Answers for the Curious, Cautious, and Confused
Faith Hickman Brynie

Interest Level: Grades 6 – 12
Reading Level: Grade 8

As in previous books in this critically acclaimed series, Brynie polled hundreds of high school students across the country to find out what they wanted to know most about sex and sexuality. Using an accessible question-and-answer format, Brynie helps readers discover and learn facts about the sex and sexuality. Brynie appealing and clear writing style makes learning about sex and sexuality for students easy and understandable.

NCSS StandardsScience, Technology, and Society
NSES StandardsHistory and Nature of Science
Life Science
Unifying Concepts and Processes
BSL StandardsThe Human Organism
Correlations Standards SubjectsLanguage Arts
Science
Social Studies

Archenemy
Paul Hoblin

Interest Level: Grades 6 – 12
Reading Level: Grade 4

As a defender for the Fraser High girls soccer team, Addie used to be ready for anything. But now the biggest threat on the field is one of her teammates . . . who is also Addie’s former best friend.

  • Notable Award YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, Winner, 2014
  • Notable Award ALA Rainbow List, Winner, 2013

“Each title is fast-paced, readable, and appropriate for both middle and high school readers.” —Library Media Connection

NCSS StandardsIndividual Development and Identity
Correlations Standards SubjectsLanguage Arts
Social Studies

Black Lives Matter: From Hashtag to the Streets
Artika R. Tyner

Interest Level: Grades 3 – 6
Reading Level: Grades 4 – 5

Starting as a hashtag on social media, Black Lives Matter has become one of the most significant protest movements of our time. See how its activists and demonstrators have changed the course of history.

“[E]asy to read and a plethora of colorful photos help readers connect with the text. A well-written and beautiful series that brings life to the fight for Black rights.”—School Library Journal

“Discussing issues of great importance, the Fight for Black Rights series traces Black Americans’ past and ongoing struggles for civil rights and equality . . . A well-organized and timely series.”—Booklist

Girlness: Deal with it body and soul
Diane Peters

Interest Level: Grades 4 – 9
Reading Level: Grade 6

A timely new resource for helping kids deal with issues surrounding gender identity and how girls can cope with the conflicts that arise when we question what it means to be female.

NCSS StandardsCulture
Individuals, Groups, and Institutions
BSL StandardsHuman Society
Correlations Standards SubjectsLanguage Arts
Social Studies

Girls vs. Guys: Surprising Differences between the Sexes
Michael J. Rosen

Interest Level: Grades 6 – 12
Reading Level: Grade 7

Do mosquitoes bite guys more than girls? Which sex is better at diapering babies, remembering birthdays, or hammering nails? Explore the ways that environment, experience, neurology, physiology, and genetics shape gender behavior—in expected and unexpected ways.

  • Notable Award YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, Winner, 2015

“Backed by neurological and sociological research, Rosen provides . . . often surprising answers in an amusing, readable manner.”—School Library Connection

NCSS StandardsCulture
Individual Development and Identity
NSES StandardsLife Science
BSL StandardsThe Human Organism
Correlations Standards SubjectsLanguage Arts
Science
Social Studies

Guyness: Deal with it body and soul
Steve Pitt

Interest Level: Grades 4 – 9
Reading Level: Grade 6

A timely new resource for helping kids deal with issues surrounding gender identity and how boys can cope with the conflicts that arise when we question what it means to be male.

NCSS StandardsCulture
Individuals, Groups, and Institutions
BSL StandardsHuman Society
Correlations Standards SubjectsLanguage Arts
Social Studies

LGBTQ+ Athletes Claim the Field: Striving for Equality
Kirstin Cronn-Mills

Interest Level: Grades 6 – 12
Reading Level: Grade 8

Today, LGBTQ+ athletes are everywhere. But it hasn’t always been this way. Social attitudes, institutional policies, and laws have been slow to change, but now LGBTQ+ athletes are finding opportunity and success.

  • Minnesota Book Award Finalist, Short-listed, 2017
  • Booklist Top 10 Diverse Nonfiction for Youth, Winner, 2017
  • Notable Award ALA Rainbow List, Winner, 2016

★“[A] valuable survey of the status of LGBTQ+ athletes. . . . Happily, [Cronn-Mills] humanizes these issues. . . . [H]ers is an important contribution to the blossoming field of LGBTQ literature.”—starred, Booklist

NCSS StandardsCulture
Individual Development and Identity
Individuals, Groups, and Institutions
Correlations Standards SubjectsLanguage Arts
Social Studies
Health

More Than a Game: Race, Gender, and Politics in Sports
Matt Doeden

Interest Level: Grades 5 – 12
Reading Level: Grade 5

Explore powerful moments in sports that made an impact on human rights, including Muhammad Ali’s stand against the Vietnam War, Colin Kaepernick’s protests supporting Black Lives Matter, the US gymnastics team’s testimony empowering women to speak out about sexual abuse, and more.

  • Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books, Winner, 2020

“A worthy purchase that will serve as a good first stop for school projects.”—School Library Journal

Raise the Stakes
Megan Atwood

Interest Level: Grades 6 – 12
Reading Level: Grade 4

Colin wants out of the Contest. But the prize money would help his transgender sister afford surgery. Can Colin find out what the Benefactor is really up to without ruining his chances to win the Contest?

“The books create a thrill-seeking sense of impending disaster. . . . The series offers a perfect choice for adolescents who struggle to find easy-to-access plots with believable characters.”—VOYA

“A great choice for reluctant readers, this book, in presenting the transgender story, also delves into advocacy for equality. . . . Pages will turn right up to the cliffhanger.”—Kirkus Reviews

Safe Sex 101, 2nd Edition: An Overview for Teens
Margaret O. Hyde

Interest Level: Grade 7 – 12
Reading Level: Grade 8

Becoming sexually involved with another person is a big step in your life. It’s something to think about on your own long before you have to make a decision with anyone, even the partner you love deeply. It is probably one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. Sixty-seven percent of sexually experienced teens say they wish they had waited longer before having sexual intercourse. Through case studies and information from experts, Safe Sex 101 provides the overview teens need to understand abstinence, contraception, sexually transmitted diseases, and unplanned pregnancies, and how these can affect their lives.

NCSS StandardsIndividual Development and Identity
Individuals, Groups, and Institutions
Time, Continuity, and Change
NSES StandardsLife Science
BSL StandardsThe Human Organism
Correlations Standards SubjectsLanguage Arts
Science
Social Studies

Sex: An Uncensored Introduction
Hasler, Nikol

Interest Level: Grades 8 – 12
Reading Level: grade 8

An honest, in-depth guide to sex, sexual orientation, masturbation, foreplay, birth control options, and protection against disease. Updates include everything from STIs to new legislation, sexting to online dating and safety, and sex-related bullying of all kinds.

Stage Dreams
Gillman, Melanie

Interest Level: Grades 8 – 12
Reading Level: Grade 7

In this queer western adventure, acclaimed cartoonist Melanie Gillman puts readers in the saddle alongside Flor and Grace, a Latinx outlaw and a trans runaway, as they thwart a Confederate plot in the New Mexico Territory.

  • Excellence in Graphic Literature Award YA Fiction, Nominated, 2020
  • Notable Award YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens, Winner, 2020
  • Notable Award Children’s Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children’s Book of the Year, Winner, 2020
  • Southwest Books of the Year, Winner, 2019

★“This charming and poignant queer romance set against a Civil War–era backdrop will resonate with readers.”—starred, School Library Journal

★“[D]elves into queer history and spins a witty and extravagant yarn about a dashing duo.”—starred, Publishers Weekly

The Sin-Eater’s Confession
Ilsa J. Bick

Interest Level: Grades 9 – 12
Reading Level: Grade 7

People in Merit, Wisconsin, always said Jimmy was . . . you know. But people say all sorts of stupid stuff. Nobody really knew anything. Nobody really knew Jimmy. Jimmy’s dead now and here is my confession . . .

  • Westchester Fiction Award, Winner, 2014
  • Wisconsin Library Association’s Outstanding Book by a Wisconsin Author, Winner, 2014
  • Notable Award YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, Winner, 2014
  • Tayshas Reading List, Winner, 2013
  • Notable Award Kirkus Best Teen Books of the Year, Winner, 2013
  • Cream of the Crop for Children’s and Young Adult Literature, Winner, 2013
  • Capitol Choices: Noteworthy Books for Children, Winner, 2013

★“Bick (Drowning Instinct) crafts a powerful tale of bigotry and murder in small-town Wisconsin….a potent examination of teenage emotions and reactions to peer and parental pressures, and to the evil that people are capable of.” —starred, Publishers Weekly

★“Bick’s compelling tale manages to be a blistering confessional and a page-turning whodunit (or maybe what-really-happened) all in one… Readers won’t be able to look away even if they find they don’t much like—or trust—Ben.” —starred, Kirkus Reviews

NCSS StandardsCivic Ideals and Practices
Culture
Individual Development and Identity
Individuals, Groups, and Institutions
Correlations Standards SubjectsLanguage Arts
Social Studies

The Truth Is
NoNieqa Ramos

Interest Level: Grades 9 – 12
Reading Level: Grade 8

Fifteen-year-old overachiever Verdad is struggling to meet her Puerto Rican mother’s expectations and process her best friend’s death when she falls for Danny, a trans boy, and starts to question her own identity.

  • Notable Award In the Margins Fiction Recommendation List, Co-winner, 2020
  • Bustle Book Club Selection, Winner, 2019

“Ramos writes with intensity and poeticism in this fresh, painful, but ultimately optimistic coming-of-age novel. Notable for its up-to-the minute depiction of gender identity, sexual orientation, and race.”—School Library Journal

Downloadable Teaching Resource: https://lernerbooks.com/teaching_guides/411

Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir
Liz Prince

Interest Level: Grades 8 – 12
Reading Level: Grade 8

Growing up, Liz Prince wasn’t a girly girl, dressing in pink tutus. But she wasn’t exactly one of the guys either. Tomboy is the story of her struggle to find the place where she belonged.

  • Amelia Bloomer Project List, Winner, 2015
  • Notable Award YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Nominee, Nominated, 2015
  • CBC Teen Choice Book of the Year Award Nominee, Nominated, 2014
  • Goodreads Choice Awards Top Ten Finalist, Runner-up, 2014
  • Notable Award Kirkus Best Teen Books of the Year, Winner, 2014
  • Notable Award ALA Rainbow List, Winner, 2014
  • Notable Award YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens, Winner, 2014
  • Notable Award YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, Winner, 2014
  • Texas Maverick Graphic Novels Reading List, Winner, 2014

★“Spectacular; a book to make anyone think seriously about society’s preordained gender roles.”—starred, Kirkus Reviews

Downloadable Teaching Resource: https://lernerbooks.com/teaching_guides/415

Transgender Lives: Complex Stories, Complex Voices
Kirstin Cronn-Mills

Interest Level: Grades 6 – 12
Reading Level: Grade 7

Meet seven transgender individuals and learn how they came to understand, accept, and express their gender identities, as well as the sorrows and successes they experienced.

  • Notable Award Children’s Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children’s Book of the Year, Winner, 2015
  • NYC Reads 365 Recommended Reading List, Winner, 2015

★“Cronn-Mills has written an admirably informative and respectful book….This book should be on the shelf in all middle, high school, and public libraries where patrons could be seeking understanding and/or affirmation of the complexities of gender….Highly Recommended.”―starred, Library Media Connection

NCSS StandardsCivic Ideals and Practices
Culture
Individual Development and Identity
Science, Technology, and Society
NSES StandardsLife Science
Science in Personal and Social Perspective
BSL StandardsThe Human Organism
Human Society
Correlations Standards SubjectsLanguage Arts
Science
Social Studies

Transphobia : deal with it and be a gender transcender
J. Wallace Skelton

Interest Level: Grades 4 – 9
Reading Level: Grade 6

A timely new resource for helping kids understand and resolve conflicts stemming from gender identity, gender expression, and transphobia.

NCSS StandardsCulture
Individual Development and Identity
BSL StandardsHuman Society
Correlations Standards SubjectsLanguage Arts
Social Studies

Underneath It All: A History of Women’s Underwear
Amber Keyser

Interest Level: Grades 9 – 12
Reading Level: Grade 9

For most of human history, the garments women wore under their clothes were hidden. The earliest underwear provided warmth and protection. But eventually, women’s undergarments became complex structures designed to shape their bodies to fit the fashion ideals of the time

  • Texas Topaz Reading List, Winner, 2019

“[E]ndlessly fascinating, a great addition to nonfiction collections.”—School Library Journal

You Do You: Figuring Out Your Body, Dating, and Sexuality
Sarah Mirk

Interest Level: Grades 6 – 12
Reading Level: Grade 8

In this inclusive and supportive overview, readers are empowered with information about sexuality: the basics of human reproduction and development, birth control, gender identity, the importance of consent, safety, communication, relationships and break ups, body positivity, media myths, and more.

★“An affirming, up-to-date book for teens that encourages smart, informed decision-making about their own bodies.”—starred, Kirkus Reviews