Even More Beloved Black Banned Books You Must Read Now [UPDATED]

Even More Beloved Black Banned Books You Must Read Now [UPDATED]

We made a list of Black books beloved by readers everywhere, but that are also heavily targeted by conservatives

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Image for article titled Even More Beloved Black Banned Books You Must Read Now [UPDATED]
Photo: On The Run Photo (Shutterstock)

Across the country, there have been continuous efforts to ban books from libraries and schools that deal with issues of race and sexuality. And it’s no coincidence that many of those books were written by authors that identify as LGBTQ or Black. But as conservatives push to keep people from reading these books, it’s important that we push just as hard on the other side to keep them in circulation. This is even more important as Republicans set out to push their “anti-woke” agenda when they take control of the House of Representatives next year.

We’ve rounded up some of our favorite books by Black authors that are frequent targets of conservatives. Accused of everything from sexually explicit content to making white people feel bad about slavery, haters just can’t keep these titles out of their mouths.

Advertisement

2 / 22

“Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe

“Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe

Image for article titled Even More Beloved Black Banned Books You Must Read Now [UPDATED]
Screenshot: Amazon.com

“Things Fall Apart” centers around the reality of life in Nigeria during the turn of the twentieth century and the impact of colonization by the British. Since publication, the book has sold 20 million copies sold has been translated into 57 languages, Former President Barack Obama called it “a true classic of world literature.” But in 2012, it was added to the list of books challenged by Texas schools because of the way it depicts the consequences of colonialism.

Advertisement

3 / 22

“This is Your Time” by Ruby Bridges

“This is Your Time” by Ruby Bridges

Image for article titled Even More Beloved Black Banned Books You Must Read Now [UPDATED]
Screenshot: Amazon.com

If there’s one thing conservatives don’t like, it’s kids learning about racial injustice. And that’s why “This is Your Time,” made a list of books Texas lawmakers targeted for investigation in 2021. At age six, Ruby Bridges made history, as the first Black child to integrate an all-white public elementary school in New Orleans. In the book, she recalls her experience for young readers and leaves them with a message of hope.

Advertisement

4 / 22

“All American Boys” by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kelly

“All American Boys” by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kelly

Image for article titled Even More Beloved Black Banned Books You Must Read Now [UPDATED]
Screenshot: Amazon.com

“All American Boys” was the target of a challenge by the Fraternal Order of Police in Charleston County, South Carolina, who accused the book of encouraging mistrust of the police. When a young Black boy is mistaken for a shoplifter, it leaves a community bitterly divided. And two teens, one Black and one white are struggling to deal with the consequences.

Advertisement

5 / 22

“Fallen Angels” by Walter Dean Myers

“Fallen Angels” by Walter Dean Myers

Image for article titled Even More Beloved Black Banned Books You Must Read Now [UPDATED]
Screenshot: Amazon.com

In “Fallen Angels,” Walter Dean Myers writes about Black troops in the Vietnam War and questions why they were often put in the most dangerous situations. But the book faced several challenges for its “use of profanity” and “depiction of violence.”

When asked about the negative reaction to his book in an interview with the National Coalition Against Censorship, Myers said, “I was annoyed, but I also understood that the children I write about are usually regarded as the “troublemakers” and the ones least likely to succeed. It hardly came to me as a surprise that schools and teachers would not want their lives celebrated.”

Advertisement

6 / 22

“A Lesson Before Dying” by Ernest J. Gaines

“A Lesson Before Dying” by Ernest J. Gaines

Image for article titled Even More Beloved Black Banned Books You Must Read Now [UPDATED]
Screenshot: Amazon.com

Set in the rural South during the Jim Crow era, “A Lesson Before Dying” tells the story of a teacher who visits a young Black man on Death Row for a crime he didn’t commit. But the Oprah’s Book Club pick and National Book Critics Circle Award Winner was the target of bans and challenges around the country on the basis of sexually explicit content and profanity.

Advertisement

7 / 22

“The Color Purple” by Alice Walker

“The Color Purple” by Alice Walker

Image for article titled Even More Beloved Black Banned Books You Must Read Now [UPDATED]
Photo: Amazon.com

“The Color Purple” is a beautiful story of sisters Celie and Nettie who work to maintain their connection after being separated as young girls. The book won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, but it is the constant target of challenges for “language and explicit content,” including one by a PA school district who called it “smut.”

Advertisement

8 / 22

“Song of Solomon” by Toni Morrison

“Song of Solomon” by Toni Morrison

Image for article titled Even More Beloved Black Banned Books You Must Read Now [UPDATED]
Photo: Amazon.com

“Song of Solomon” is one of Oprah Winfrey’s favorite titles, and one of the first picks for her Oprah’s Book Club. But Toni Morrison’s 1977 novel has been challenged by several school districts around the country, including one in Georgia who removed it from required reading lists and library shelves after being deemed “filthy and inappropriate.”

Advertisement

9 / 22

“Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston

“Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston

Image for article titled Even More Beloved Black Banned Books You Must Read Now [UPDATED]
Photo: Amazon.com

Zora Neale Hurston’s “There Eyes Were Watching God” is a classic piece of American literature and a powerful love story. The book was challenged by a school district in Virginia in !997 by a parent who took issue with the book’s “language and sexual explicitness.”

Advertisement

10 / 22

“Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison

“Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison

Image for article titled Even More Beloved Black Banned Books You Must Read Now [UPDATED]
Photo: Amazon.com

Ralph Ellison’s 1952 novel “Invisible Man” tells the story of a young college-educated Black man who is struggling to find his identity. The narrator is purposely nameless to emphasize the experience of being a Black man in America. The book caused controversy in a Washington school district in 1994 after parents raised concerns about violence and profanity included in the book.

Advertisement

11 / 22

“Native Son” by Richard Wright

“Native Son” by Richard Wright

Image for article titled Even More Beloved Black Banned Books You Must Read Now [UPDATED]
Photo: Amazon.com

Richard Wright’s “Native Son” tells the story of a Black man who killed a white woman in a moment of panic. And although Wright’s story is meant to make a powerful statement on the impact of racism, it has been challenged by several school districts around the country for containing “sexually explicit content.”

Advertisement

12 / 22

“The New Kid” by Jerry Craft

“The New Kid” by Jerry Craft

Image for article titled Even More Beloved Black Banned Books You Must Read Now [UPDATED]
Photo: Amazon.com

“The New Kid” is a bestselling graphic novel for children. Author/illustrator Jerry Craft based the story on his own experience as a Black kit attending a predominately white school in New York City. But a public school district in Texas decided that it promoted Critical Race Theory and Marxism and voted to remove it from their library shelves.

Advertisement

13 / 22

“Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot” by Mikki Kendall

“Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot” by Mikki Kendall

Image for article titled Even More Beloved Black Banned Books You Must Read Now [UPDATED]
Photo: screen shot: Amazon.com

In “Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot,” Mikki Kendall looks at the feminist movement, which she argues is focused on helping those with privilege gain even more. Kendall writes that the movement is neglecting issues like food insecurity, quality education and public safety, all of which are feminist issues that primarily impact women of color. In 2021, the book was placed on a banned list released by Republican Texas state Representative Matt Krause who argued that all of the talk about race in the book might make some (aka, white) students feel uncomfortable.

Advertisement

14 / 22

“The Hate You Give” by Angie Thomas

“The Hate You Give” by Angie Thomas

Image for article titled Even More Beloved Black Banned Books You Must Read Now [UPDATED]
Photo: Screen shot: Amazon.com

To say that Angie Thomas’ YA novel, “The Hate You Give,” was a success would be a massive understatement. It held a place on The New York Times bestseller list for 50 weeks, received a Coretta Scott King Book Award and was adapted into a feature film. But it also was the target of a whole lot of conservatives who looked to ban the book for violence, profanity and being against the police. The novel, inspired by the Black Lives Matter Movement, centers around a teenage girl who witnesses one of her childhood friends being shot by police.

Advertisement

15 / 22

“All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M. Johnson

“All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M. Johnson

Image for article titled Even More Beloved Black Banned Books You Must Read Now [UPDATED]
Photo: Screen shot: Amazon.com

“All Boys Aren’t Blue” is a collection of beautifully personal essays by George M. Johnson. In the book, they share their experience growing up Black and queer. From the bullying and abuse to first loves and special moments with their grandmother, Johnson gives readers a look at everything beautiful and painful of their experience. And the book received plenty of praise, named one of the top 10 teen titles of 2021 by the Young Adult Library Services Association of the American Library Association. But of course, conservatives get lost in the profanity and the LGBTQ themes, which they are quick to call “sexually explicit” and even “pornographic.” The American Library Association named it one of the 10 most challenged books of 2021.

Advertisement

16 / 22

“The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison

“The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison

Image for article titled Even More Beloved Black Banned Books You Must Read Now [UPDATED]
Photo: Screen shot: Amazon.com

Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye” is a classic piece of American literature and a work that solidified her place as one of our most beloved authors. But it is also heavily targeted by those who accuse the book of including offensive language and sexually explicit content. The book was listed on the American Library Association’s (ALA) list of the most challenged books in 2013 and 2014.

Advertisement

17 / 22

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

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

Image for article titled Even More Beloved Black Banned Books You Must Read Now [UPDATED]
Photo: Screen shot: Amazon.com

“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” is Maya Angelou’s first memoir. In the book, she writes beautifully about her childhood after being sent to live with her grandmother in a small town in the South. Angelou shares personal stories, including her abuse at the hands of an older man. Although the book is autobiographical, it stays on the banned book lists that accuse it of being anti-white and including sexually explicit content.

Advertisement

18 / 22

“Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You” by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds

“Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You” by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds

Image for article titled Even More Beloved Black Banned Books You Must Read Now [UPDATED]
Photo: Screen shot: Amazon.com

“Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You” by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi found it’s way on to the ALA’s top 10 most challenged book list in 2020 because of statement the author made in public. It was also hit with claims that it contains “selective storytelling incidents” and isn’t inclusive of racism against all people.

Advertisement

19 / 22

“The Autobiography of Malcolm X” by Malcolm X and Alex Haley

“The Autobiography of Malcolm X” by Malcolm X and Alex Haley

Image for article titled Even More Beloved Black Banned Books You Must Read Now [UPDATED]
Photo: Screen shot: Amazon.com

“The Autobiography of Malcom X” is the story of the legendary civil rights leader as told to Alex Haley. According to a January tweet from Books to Prisoners Seattle, the book was banned by a Tennessee State Department of Corrections prison. The prison returned the book to the nonprofit which donates books to those who are incarcerated with a note that read, “Malcolm X not allowed.”

Advertisement

20 / 22

“Go Tell it on the Mountain” by James Baldwin

“Go Tell it on the Mountain” by James Baldwin

Image for article titled Even More Beloved Black Banned Books You Must Read Now [UPDATED]
Photo: Screen shot: Amazon.com

James Baldwin’s “Go Tell it on the Mountain” tells the story of a fourteen-year-old boy finding his identity as the stepson of a Pentecostal minister. The book was banned twice in New York and Virginia in cases accusing it of being “rife with profanity and explicit sex.”

Advertisement

21 / 22

“Beloved” by Toni Morrison

“Beloved” by Toni Morrison

Image for article titled Even More Beloved Black Banned Books You Must Read Now [UPDATED]
Photo: Screen shot: Amazon.com

“Toni’s Morrison’s “Beloved” is a New York Times Bestseller, a Pulitzer Prize winner and required reading in many English classes. It tells the story of Sethe a freed slave who is still haunted by her past. The book appeared on the ALA’s top 10 most banned book list in 2012, criticized for sexually explicit and violent content as well as its religious viewpoint.

Advertisement

22 / 22