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MLA not surprised by top 13 challenged books in the nation, director says


The American Library Association recently released its list of the top 13 most challenged books in the nation. The organization documented 1,269 reports of book challenges last year.

Many of the books contained LGBTQ-plus content, and were challenged on the grounds of being sexually explicit.

Debbie Mikula is the executive director of the Michigan Library Association, and she said she wasn’t surprised by the list. The number of challenges is probably an undercount, she said.

“Certainly when you walk into a library you have choices to be made about what is best for you and your family, but you can’t push your opinion onto others," Mikula said. "Because while we think of—we believe a book is not the right fit for one person, it’s still a perfect fit for another.”

There has been a more focused effort over the past year to challenge and potentially ban books in libraries, she said.

"When librarians talk about serving all and having diverse—a variety of materials for anyone within our society, we really do mean that," Mikula said. "We’re here to promote that libraries are safe spaces, open spaces."

The top two books — for the second year in a row — were “Gender Queer: A Memoir” and “All Boys Aren’t Blue.” Both contain LGBTQ themes.

Ben Jodway is an intern, serving as a reporter for WCMU Public Media and the Pioneer in Big Rapids. He has covered Indigenous communities and political extremism in Michigan.