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Banned and Challenged Books

Beyond Banning Books

In 2022, the articles about Banned Book Week are noting that banning books has become just the first step into a bigger argument about who gets to control information. As PEN America says in its annual coverage of banned books:

Over the past two and a half years, PEN America has been at the forefront of tracking an evolving movement to exert ideological control over public education across the United States. This campaign—which PEN America has dubbed the “Ed Scare”—is penetrating public libraries, higher education institutions, and public schools, using state legislation and intimidation tactics to suppress teaching and learning about certain stories, identities, and histories.

Despite 2023 being a record year for book bans, that increase was fueled based largely on complaints from just a few people

The Nation covers how an initial push to move children's book titles became a movement to close down a library, unless even more drastic demands are met. 

Further,  many Chicagoland libraries have had to close due to bomb threats in reaction to Illinois's newly enacted law that makes banning books more difficult. WBEZ in Chicago has more information about what that means for those libraries. 

States are also now voting to leave the American Library Association, an education and advocacy nonprofit that has existed since 1876 over ALA's advocacy for the Freedom to Read and a tweet by the ALA president celebrating her election in 2022

Book Challenges Increase, charted 2022

Note: PEN America uses a different methodology to measure book bans.

Banned and Challenged Books

This guide provides an overview and resources related to banned and challenged books.


Organizations that track and resist book bans:

American Library Association (ALA ) Advocacy: Banned & Challenged Books

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE)

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF)

Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF)

National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC)

National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Intellectual Freedom Center

PEN America: The Freedom to Write

Unite Against Book Bans (an ALA initiative)


What is a banned book? 

The American Library Association (ALA) defines a banned book as a book that has been removed from the shelf of a library or school. According to ALA, a challenged book is a book that a person, group, or authority thinks should be removed, but is still on a library or school's shelves.


Coverage of 2022 Book Bans


Axios Texas provides coverage of the book bans specifically in that state.

The August 25th 2023 This Week in Libraries column in Publisher's Weekly gives a snapshot about all the different kinds of Book Ban related activity happening country-wide. 

The New York Times gathered student input about how banning books affected them.

Winona Daily News has an article that critiques one of the standard lines that dismisses the impact of book bans: they do not increase sales for a majority of the authors who have been banned. 

USA Today covers the site whose reviews are cited by most attempts to ban books. 

Beyond libraries

Iowa is dealing with the ramifications of how changing laws might affect Little Free Libraries located on school property. Meanwhile, Scholastic Book Fairs are also changing their book selections in order to appease parents who have been objecting to book content. 

What is a Ban?


If you can buy a book on Amazon, is it banned? Danika Ellis of Book Riot explains why "ban" is the correct term for the movement to remove books from libraries. 

Additionally, Heather Kelly of the Washington Post explains why banning books from libraries is harmful, even if an "enterprising teenager" might find the book online. 

Data on 2021 Book Bans

Reports on Book Bans with numbers:

  • On September 16, 2022, the American Library Association released preliminary data on 2022 Book Bans. To access the press release, click here. It details the highest number of attempted book bans since ALA began compiling these lists more than 20 years ago. 
  • On the same day, a related New York Times article, "Attempts to Ban Books Are Accelerating and Becoming More Divisive" was published, and is available here.
  • PEN America"s recent report, "Banned in the USA: The Growing Movement to Censor Books in Schools" details 1,648 book titles have been banned in schools, including books by 1,261 different authors, 290 illustrators and 18 translators.
  • Book Riot did analysis of the 850 books that  Texas State Representative Matt Krause sent to the Texas Education Agency in October 2021 requesting that they be examined as part of  Texas House Bill 3979, a so-called anti-CRT bill on the grounds that “an individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of the individual’s race or sex.”