Are book ban efforts on the rise in the US?

Monday, April 11, 2022
By Brian A. Gross

The American Library Association recorded 729 book challenges in 2021—the most since it began counting in 2001. On average, the ALA records around 400 challenges per year.

Multiple book-banning efforts are often coupled in a single challenge; the number of individual titles challenged in 2021 totaled 1,597. The ALA says the true number is even higher given that books are sometimes removed from libraries without a formal challenge.

Challenges are not synonymous with bans, with the majority of challenges being unsuccessful due to advocacy from "librarians, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens."

Most challenges were initiated by conservatives targeting books about people of color and LGBTQ people. "The Hate U Give," a novel about a Black teenage girl whose friend is shot by a police officer at a traffic stop, was challenged for its alleged "anti-police" agenda. "This Book is Gay," a nonfiction book about growing up queer, was challenged for “providing sexual education."

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