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Read Across America Books Banned or Challenged in Schools

Educators recommend these titles to connect students with worlds and characters as diverse as they are and inspire them to a lifelong love of reading. But others want to take away students' freedom to read.
collage of book covers of banned books
Published: 03/14/2023

These books, featured in NEA’s Read Across America program and recommended by a committee of educators, were included in PEN America’s 2022 analysis of titles challenged and banned in school and classroom libraries. 

To find these titles in a local public library near you, view our companion list on WorldCat.


Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal 

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson 

Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford and R. Gregory Christie 

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard 

Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry

Ho’onani Hula Warrior by Heather Gale 

Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica Love 

Leila in Saffron by Rukhsanna Guidroz 

Lubna and Pebble by Wendy Meddour 

Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai 

My Hair is a Garden by Cozbi A. Cabrera 

Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales 

Stella Díaz Has Something to Say by Angela Dominguez 

Your Name is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow 

Middle Grade 

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

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes 

The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson 

Thanks a Lot, Universe by Chad Lucas 

When Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed 

Young Adult 

American Street by Ibi Zoboi 

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People by Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz, adapted by Jean Mendoza and Debbie Reese 

How It All Blew Up by Arvin Ahmadi 

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez 

The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg 

Stamped: Racism, Anti-Racism, and You by Jason Reynolds 

The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives by Dashka Slater 

The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan 

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott 

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Recommended Books by Theme from NEA's Read Across America

Spread the joy of reading with these lists from NEA and Colorín Colorado to connect children and their families to diverse books, languages, and cultures.
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The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.