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Banned Books: Book Bans and Challenges

Observing "Banned Books" Week and a Guide to Resources for Eng 85 and Eng 270

Censorship on the Rise

Censorship by the Numbers. Censorship on the Rise

Image used with permission from ALA American Library Association, Banned Books Week.

Censorship By the Numbers

Censorship on the Rise

The unparalleled number of reported book challenges in 2022 nearly doubled the number reported in 2021.

The number of unique titles targeted marked a 38% increase over 2021.

Graph shows 305 titles challenged in 2003; 339 titles challenged in 2021; 223 titles challenged in 2020; 1,858 titles challenged in 2021; 2,571 titles challenged in 2022

Censorship By the Numbers - | #BannedBooksWeek

By the Numbers

See the Top 10 Most Challenged Books for 2022

Top 10 Challenged Books 2022-23

"Between January 1 and August 31, 2023, OIF reported 695 attempts to censor library materials and services and documented challenges to 1,915 unique titles - a 20% increase from the same reporting period in 2022, which saw the highest number of book challenges since ALA began compiling the data more than 20 years ago. The vast majority of challenges were to books written by or about a person of color or a member of the LGBTQIA+ community."

Data from ALA's Office of Intellectual Freedom

In the 2022–23 school year, from July 1, 2022, to June 31, 2023, PEN America recorded 3,362 instances of book bans in US public school classrooms and libraries. These bans removed student access to 1,557 unique book titles, the works of over 1,480 authors, illustrators, and translators.

Data from PEN America's, report "Banned in the USA" 

Reason for Challenges

Office of Intellectual Freedom - Reasons for books being challenged: Censorship by the numbers

Image courtesy of ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom

Reasons for challenges: sexually explicit, obscene, critical race theory, profanity, LGBTQIA, woke, polarizing, pornography, indoctrinating kids, drugs, homophobic or transphobic, nudity, pedophilia, political viewpoint, racially divisive, anti-police, bleak, racist content, occult, totally evil, gender dysphoria, anti-semitic, anti-family, non-traditional values, grooming, abortion, white privilege, triggering, promoted a homosexual lifestyle, developmentally inappropriate, problematic author, not a happy ending, sexualization of women, masturbation, violence, unsafe or causes harm, harmful misinformation, offensive Chinese stereotypes, biased and unbalanced, dangerous and detrimental, promotes racism, hateful, use of derogatory terms for African Americans, progressive liberal agenda, inflammatory.

Censorship By the Numbers - | #BannedBooksWeek

Who Initiates Challenges

In the Past ...

Who Initiates Challenges?

Image courtesy of ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom

Who Initiates Challenges? 39% Parents; 24% Patrons; 18% Board/Administration; 10% Political/religious groups; 6% Librarians/teachers; 2% Elected Officials; 1% Students

Statistics based on 715 responses

Censorship By the Numbers - | #BannedBooksWeek

Today ...

"It's no longer a conversation between an educator and a librarian and a parent about a book the parent has concerns about. We're seeing organized political attacks on our school and public libraries."

Censorship by the Numbers Who Initiates Challenges

Who Initiates Challenges? 30% Parents; 28% Patrons; 17% Political/religious groups; 15% Board/Administration; 3% Librarians/teachers; 3% Elected Officials; 4% Other (Includes non-custodial relatives, nonresidents, community members without library cards

Statistics based on 1,207 cases with known initiators

Censorship By the Numbers - | #BannedBooksWeek

90% of the reported book challenges in 2022 were demands to censor multiple titles

From The State of America's Libraries

90% of the reported book challenges in 2022 were demands to censor multiple titles.

40% of the reported book challenges sought to remove or restrict more than 100 books at a time.

Where are Books Challenged?

Censorship by the Numbers. Where do challenges take place?

Image courtesy of the American Library Association (ALA) Office of Intellectual Freedom

Where do challenges take place?

In 2022, nearly 51% of the demands to censor books targeted books, programs, displays, and other materials in school libraries and schools; 48% of book challenges targeted materials in public libraries

48% Public Libraries; 41% School Libraries; 10% Schools; 1% Academic/Other

Statistics based on 1,264 cases with known locations.

Censorship By the Numbers - | #BannedBooksWeek

School Book Bans by State 2022

School Book Bans by State July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023


751 to 1000 bans: Texas

501 to 750 bans: Florida

251 to 500 bans: Tennessee, Pennsylvania

51 to 250 bans: No states

26 to 50 bans: Idaho, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Michigan

11 to 25 bans: New York, Indiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, Utah

1-10 bans: Washington, Oregon, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Arkansas, South Carolina, Ohio, New Jersey, Maryland, Vermont, Maine

0 bans: 32 states had NO bans

See PEN America's Index of School Book Bans for details

Image and data sources: PEN America

Mapping Challenges to the Freedom to Read

View the interactive map of Attempts to Restrict Book Access by State

Challenges to Books Can Occur Close to Home

For a larger map of the West Coast.

Image attribution: creator unknown,

Frequently Banned or Challenged

Ukiah Campus: 707.468.3053 | Coast Center: 707.961.2200 | Lake Center: 707.263.4944 | North County Center: 707.459.6224
Email: Library Webmaster | Mendocino Community College

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