New report finds coordinated rise in banned book attempts
By: Andrew Limbang | NPR
Washington, D.C. (NPR) — More than 1,600 titles have been banned throughout the 2021-22 school year, according to a new report from PEN America, an organization that advocates for free speech.
According to the report, the surge in book bans is the result of a network of local political and advocacy groups targeting books with LGBTQ+ characters and storylines, as well as books involving people of color.
CEO Suzanne Nossel said: “While we believe that banned books are the work of individuals about their citizens, our report shows that today’s wave of banned books represents a mature, ideological and well-resourced advocacy A coordinated campaign by organizations to expel books.” PEN America official.
In April, officials in Madison County, Mississippi, placed more than 20 books under “restricted circulation.”These books include Queer, there, everywhere by Sarah Prager, the hatred you give by Angie Thomas, and bluest eyes by Tony Morrison. This came after pressure from the Mass Resistance, a militant group listed by the SPLC as anti-LGBTQ.
Similar stories cited in the report are happening across the country. Texas ranks first among the states with the most bans, according to the report. PEN America describes a book ban as “any action taken on a book based on its content,” the result of challenges from parents, community groups or politicians.
PEN America has identified at least 50 groups working at the local, state and national levels advocating for books to be removed from school curricula and from school library shelves. According to the report, this is a relatively recent incident. Many groups, such as Moms for Liberty, start in 2021.
The American Library Association also released a report late last week showing that the challenges facing books continue to rise. According to their records, between January and August of this year, 1,651 unique titles were targeted — including 681 attempts to ban or restrict library resources. The ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom counted 729 challenges facing library, school and university materials throughout 2021, a fourfold increase from the previous year.
The ALA also pointed to more conservative political groups pushing for book bans in schools and libraries across the country. According to the ALA report, the actions of these groups have largely focused on YA books dealing with race, gender and sexual identity — echoing the findings of the PEN America study.