Apr 4, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Book ban efforts hit highest level in at least 20 years

A library
A school library in Washington, D.C. Photo: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A report from the American Library Association released Monday found over 700 "challenges" to library, school and university materials in 2021, the most since at least 2000, when the organization started tracking them.

Driving the news: Book bans have risen substantially over the past year, as conservative groups have challenged public school libraries and successfully purged books from those libraries, generally about LGBTQ issues and people of color, per Axios' Russell Contreras.

By the numbers: The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom found 729 attempts to ban library, school and university materials, targeting 1,597 individual books.

The report also compiled a list of the top 10 most challenged books. The top two were "Gender Queer," by Maia Kobabe and “Lawn Boy,” by Jonathan Evison, both of which have been targeted by Republican governors, according to AP.

  • The list also included "The Hate U Give" by Angie Thomas and 'The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison.

What they're saying: "We support individual parents' choices concerning their child's reading and believe that parents should not have those choices dictated by others. Young people need to have access to a variety of books from which they can learn about different perspectives," ALA president Patricia Wong said in a statement on Monday.

  • "Despite this organized effort to ban books, libraries remain ready to do what we always have: make knowledge and ideas available so people are free to choose what to read," Wong added.
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