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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: March 14, 2023 Last Updated: March 25, 2024

These books, featured in NEA’s Read Across America program and recommended by a committee of educators, were included in PEN America’s analysis of titles challenged and banned in school and classroom libraries from 2021-2023. 

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 

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell 

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 

From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks 

Front Desk by Kelly Yang

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes 

The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani 

The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson 

Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez 

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 

Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America edited by Ibi Zoboi 

Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Pénélope Bagieu 

Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram 

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

How It All Blew Up by Arvin Ahmadi 

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

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo 

The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan 

The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg 

One Person, No Vote (YA edition): How Not All Voters Are Treated Equally by Carol Anderson with Tonya Bolden 

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang 

Say Her Name by Zetta Elliott 

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

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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