Over 1,600 books challenged in school districts in one year


ST. LOUIS – The country is poised to see more book challenges in 2022 than the record set in 2021, according to the American Library Association (ALA). Another recent report from PEN America found that over 2,500 cases of single book bans have been identified, which affects 1,648 individual book titles.


what you need to know

  • The country could see more book challenges in 2022 than the record set in 2021, according to the American Library Association
  • PEN America found that in one year, 1,648 individual titles were banned in school districts.
  • The group also found that the most commonly banned titles are books targeted for their LGBTQ+ content, their race and racism-related content, their sexual content — or all three
  • Both the ALA and PEN America believe about 50 groups were involved in pushing for book bans nationwide, some with local or regional groups

Bans occurred in 32 states, with Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania and Tennessee having the most incidents, according to PEN America, a group working to protect free speech.

The group also found that the most commonly banned titles are books targeted for their LGBTQ+ content, their race and racism-related content, their sexual content — or all three.

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An index of textbook bans was compiled between July 2021 and June 2022. The list includes documented cases of book bans that have been reported directly to PEN America and/or covered in the media. The report’s authors believe there are likely other bans that have not been reported.

Here is the list of Pen America’s most banned titles for the 2021-2022 school year:

  • Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe (41 Districts)

  • All Boys Ain’t Blue by George M. Johnson (29 wards)

  • Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez (24 districts)

  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (22 districts)

  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (17 districts)

  • Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison (17 wards)

  • The Absolutely True Journal of a Part-Time Native American by Sherman Alexie (16 Districts)

  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews (14 districts)

  • Ellen Hopkins crank (12 districts)

  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (12 districts)

  • l8r, g8r by Lauren Myracle (12 districts)

  • Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (12 Districts)

  • Loved by Toni Morrison (11 districts)

  • Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin (11 Districts)

  • Acting: A Graphic Novel by Raina Telgemeier (11 districts)

  • In Search of Alaska by John Green (11 Districts)

  • Melissa by Alex Gino (11 districts)

  • This book is gay by Juno Dawson (11 counties)

  • This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki (11 districts)

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The report also identified 50 groups campaigning for book bans across the country, some with local or regional groups. These parent and community groups played a role in at least half of the statewide book bans in the 2021-2022 school year.

The PEN America report also estimates that at least 40% of the bans counted in its Index of Textbook Bans are related to political pressure from state officials and elected legislators. The report says some officials in Texas, Wisconsin and South Carolina have sent out letters inquiring about the availability of certain books in schools.

States such as Florida, Utah and Missouri have also passed laws imposing restrictions on materials. Some school districts in the St. Louis area have reported reviewing their collections and removing several titles due to SB 775, the new legislation setting guidelines for providing “explicitly sexual materials” to a student.

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The reports were released in connection with Book Ban Week. The ALA found that between January 1 and August 31, 2022, there were 681 documented attempts to ban or restrict library resources and 1,651 individual titles. Throughout 2021, there were 729 reported attempts to censor resources, the highest number since lists began being compiled over 20 years ago.

The ALA agrees with PEN America on what may be behind the surge in book challenges.

“The unprecedented number of challenges we are seeing already this year reflects a coordinated, national effort to silence marginalized or historically underrepresented voices and deprive all of us – especially young people – of the opportunity to experience a world beyond borders more personally experience,” ALA President Lessa Kananiʻopua Pelayo-Lozada said in a press release.

During this year’s Banned Books Week, libraries across the country are highlighting increasing censorship of books.



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