Mar 26, 2024 - News

Florida leads U.S. in book challenges, library association reports

Illustration of a tiny person facing a brick wall, which is also the interior of a giant book.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Florida reported more book challenges — 2,672 — than any other state in 2023, according to data released by the American Library Association (ALA) earlier this month.

  • Texas reported the second-most challenges at 1,470, according to the group.

Why it matters: The number of books targeted for censorship at U.S. schools and libraries rose 65% in 2023 over 2022 — the highest level ALA has ever reported, Axios' Jennifer A. Kingson reports.

The big picture: Florida garnered national headlines and pushback for its laws limiting classroom discussion topics, leading Gov. Ron DeSantis in February to say book challenges in the state had gone too far.

  • In January, one Florida district reported it had removed more than 1,600 titles for review, including five dictionaries and eight different encyclopedias, to comply with state law.

By the numbers: 4,240 different titles were targeted for censorship last year across the country, compared with 2,571 in 2022, a record at the time.

  • Yes, but: The number of overall censorship demands dropped slightly to 1,247 in 2023 from 1,269 in 2022.

Caveat: ALA considers its censorship tally "only a snapshot," noting that it doesn't include book challenges that weren't reported directly to the group or covered by the media.

  • PEN America, which champions authors' rights, recorded 3,362 book bans in the 2022–2023 school year, up 33% from the prior year.

What's next: The ALA will release its new list of the 10 most challenged books on April 8.

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