Book Ban Efforts Spread Across the U.S.

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”

– Haruki Murakami

If you have seen the news recently, you’ve likely seen the headlines about the effort to ban books across the country. Book banning, which is a form of censorship, occurs when private individuals, government officials, or organizations remove books from libraries, school reading lists, or bookstore shelves because they do not agree with the content being portrayed in the books. Advocates for book banning fear that their children will be swayed by its contents, which they have mentioned they have seen as potentially dangerous.

The American Library Association reported that they have received an “unprecedented” 330 reports of book challenges to ban books. Parents, activists, school board officials, and lawmakers around the country are challenging books at a pace not seen in decades. Kids are starting to get the message that their identity is not acceptable, whether it’s race, gender, or sexuality.

Reasons advocates are wanting to ban books is because they see this as an issue of parental rights and choice, that parents should be able to decide what their own children are reading. With it being social work month this March and from the view of an intern social worker, making a book unavailable creates a lack of equal access to information for a diverse audience. This can be the equivalent of trying to violate the rights of other parents and the rights of children who believe that access to these books is important. By advocates banning these books, we are removing the possibility for conversation on these topics of race, gender, and sexuality.

Here at L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library, our mission is to promote lifelong learning, create collaborative spaces, and support open access to diverse materials and resources to enhance the quality of life in the community. The library also promotes intellectual freedom. We strive to provide resources and programs that offer a wide variety of viewpoints on a broad range of topics, we promote access to enhance learning to ensure open access to information for all.

All in all, it is okay to be uncomfortable. Discomfort provides an opportunity to grow intellectually when we check our irrational thoughts. It is important for people of all ages to have these difficult conversations. Without these conversations, it is harmful to our society and it can ultimately lead to ignorance. Seeking discomfort allows us to improve our performance, creativity, and learning in the long run.

Some states that are trying to ban books in school/public libraries:

Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.

Some of the books being challenged in 2022:

These lists of states and challenged books were compiled from several different resources, including the American Library Associations Banned and Challenged Books page, and articles from The Washington Post, The New York Times, and Book Riot. Check out the links for more in-depth discussion of current book banning in the United States.

3 COMMENTS
  1. Alison Martin
    Alison Martin says:

    Thank you for this article. Wisconsin is on the list of states banning books. Is there a way that we might be informed of cities/communities that are banning books and which books they are.
    1619 is one of the best books I have read in a long time. I recommend it to everyone that I know.

    Reply
    • Stephanie, Reference Coordinator
      Stephanie, Reference Coordinator says:

      Hello Alison,
      Thank you for your question! The American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom tracks book challenges in the United States, but they protect the privacy and security of the people and institutions reporting those book challenges. To find out if books are being challenged or to express your concerns about book banning in schools, contact your local board of education. If you need assistance locating their contact information, please call our Information & Reference staff at 715-839-5004 or email us at: librarian@eauclaire.lib.wi.us.
      If you are looking to get more involved as an advocate, please visit the ALA’s Banned & Challenged Books website’s page on how to get involved: https://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/bannedbooksweek/ideasandresources/activity
      Information & Reference Staff

      Reply
  2. Susan Kishel
    Susan Kishel says:

    Thank you for this very timely article! Book banning efforts are happening right here in Eau Claire. I was concerned to hear several community members (not all of them district parents) calling for the removal of books from Eau Claire school libraries at the most recent ECASD board meeting. Among the books targeted were Brave Face (a YA memoir), It’s Perfectly Normal (an honestly wonderful sex education book for older elementary kids) and Something Happened In Our Town, an award-winning best seller about family conversations following a police shooting of a Black man. There seemed to be a lot of concern about the LGBTQ content in these books and about discussion of bias.

    Books like these provide valuable opportunities for parents to start conversations with their kids about personal safety, body image, sexual health and mental health, making it easier for kids to ask their parents about sensitive topics as they grow older. Not every book in any library is appropriate for every single patron, but they are all there for important reasons!

    Reply

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