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Banned and Challenged Books


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Aurora Jacobsen

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.


Data on 2022 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.” 


Timeline: 30 Years of Liberating Literature

Since 1982, Banned Books Week has rallied librarians, booksellers, authors, publishers, teachers, and readers of all types to celebrate and defend the freedom to read. As we commemorate 30 years of Banned Books Week and enter the 31st year of protecting readers' rights, ALA unveiled this timeline highlighting one significant banned or challenged book from each of the years 1982 through 2012.

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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.