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As PEN America celebrates our 100th anniversary defending the freedom to read and write, book bans and restrictions are on the rise in classrooms and libraries across the country. We invite readers, authors, educators, librarians, and everyone who opposes censorship in America to get involved during Banned Books Week 2022 (Sept. 18-24). Learn more about PEN America’s groundbreaking research, this year’s events, and how you can help us #FreeTheBooks!

What is a banned book? Are they new? Learn the basics of book banning with our FAQ.

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Our Research: Banned in the USA

Book bans in public schools and libraries have recurred throughout American history, and have long been an issue of concern to PEN America as a literary and free expression advocacy organization.

READ THE REPORT


In-Person Banned Books Week Events

The Assault on Black Thought: Book Banning in Florida

The Assault on Black Thought: Book Banning in Florida

This in-person conversation will examine the recent censorious threats in Florida and the power of Black literature to spur important cultural conversations.
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Band Against the Ban in Arizona

Band Against the Ban in Arizona

Join the PEN Arizona Chapter in Phoenix as it welcomes local leaders and writers in support of free expression during Banned Books Week 2022.
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Banned Book Week Social Hour in Durham, North Carolina

Banned Book Week Social Hour in Durham, North Carolina

PEN Piedmont will host a “social cocktail hour" for free speech advocates to react to regarding the recent wave of book bans.
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Restricted Access: The American History of Book Banning

Restricted Access: The American History of Book Banning

Explore the unprecedented wave of book bannings today in the context of America’s history of censorship. Featuring a special reading by André de Shields, star of the upcoming revival of Death of a Salesman.
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Resisting Censorship in Austin - a Community Reading of Banned Books

Resisting Censorship in Austin - a Community Reading of Banned Books

Join PEN Austin as we celebrate the right to read during Banned Book Week 2022 with a community reading of banned books.
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Banned Books and Body Autonomy in Birmingham

Banned Books and Body Autonomy in Birmingham

Join PEN Birmingham for a conversation centering on the issue of restrictive book bans in an era of increasing threats to body autonomy.
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Free Speech & Banned Books: A Conversation with Azar Nafisi in Utah

Free Speech & Banned Books: A Conversation with Azar Nafisi in Utah

Azar Nafisi will explore the role Humanities and Liberal Arts play in the preservation of democracy. 
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Let's Get Organized: Fighting Book Bans Together

Let's Get Organized: Fighting Book Bans Together

We sit down to discuss the value of writing, publishing, and access to diverse books, and how we can come together and unite against book banning.
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Celebrating Black Gay Literature Amidst a Wave of Book Bans

Celebrating Black Gay Literature Amidst a Wave of Book Bans

Join PEN Detroit’s chapter for a discussion of the anti-Blackness and homophobia inherent in the slate of book bans.
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Virtual Banned Books Week Events

[Virtual] Banned Books, Fahrenheit 451, and the Division Censorship Creates

[Virtual] Banned Books, Fahrenheit 451, and the Division Censorship Creates

Join PEN America for an online discussion of 'Fahrenheit 451' as we grapple with the current threats to free expression.
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[VIRTUAL] The Book Ban Wave: Educational Censorship in SoCal

[VIRTUAL] The Book Ban Wave: Educational Censorship in SoCal

Join PEN America for a panel discussion on the story of educational censorship in Southern California.
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[Virtual] Defending LGBTQ Literature in Oklahoma

[Virtual] Defending LGBTQ Literature in Oklahoma

Join PEN Tulsa for a virtual conversation addressing the homophobia and transphobia embedded in the recent wave of book bans in Oklahoma
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[VIRTUAL] From Howl to Now: Book Bans in the U.S.

[VIRTUAL] From Howl to Now: Book Bans in the U.S.

During Banned Books Week, PEN America and Bay Area authors come together to discuss the alarming rise in book bans across the country.
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Hear From Banned Authors

Banned in the USA Q&A: Kalynn Bayron calls challenges ‘clearly homophobic’

Banned in the USA Q&A: Kalynn Bayron calls challenges ‘clearly homophobic’

For Banned Book Week, PEN America interviews Kaylnn Bayron, author of Cinderella is Dead, which has been banned at least three times in the 2021-2022 school year.
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Banned in the USA Q&A: Ashley Hope Pérez on how book bans are failing our children

Banned in the USA Q&A: Ashley Hope Pérez on how book bans are failing our children

For Banned Book Week, PEN America interviews Ashley Hope Pérez, author of Out of Darkness, which has been banned 23 times in the 2021-2022 school year.
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Banned in the USA Q&A: Kyle Lukoff on the ‘desperate importance’ of fighting book bans

Banned in the USA Q&A: Kyle Lukoff on the ‘desperate importance’ of fighting book bans

For Banned Book Week, PEN America interviews Kyle Lukoff, author of Call Me Max, which has been banned twice in the 2021-2022 school year.
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Banned in the USA Q&A: Varian Johnson asks if book bans are meant to ‘keep a certain population of our country down’

Banned in the USA Q&A: Varian Johnson asks if book bans are meant to ‘keep a certain population of our country down’

For Banned Book Week, PEN America interviews Varian Johnson, author of The Parker Inheritance, which has been banned twice in the 2021-2022 school year.
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Take Action: #FreeTheBooks

In classrooms, school districts, and libraries across the country, the freedom to read is under assault by restrictions and bans on books. PEN America needs your help to #FreeTheBooks

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Follow Along with PEN America's Live Book Ban Index

PEN America tracks book bans in libraries and classrooms across America in our Index of School Book Bans, updated weekly.

VIEW THE INDEX


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Right to Read in American Prisons Project

Over the course of the past year, PEN America’s Right to Read in American Prisons Project focused on ways prisons and jails across the country restricted access to literature and educational materials through book censorship and state book ban lists. During PEN America’s recognition of Banned Books Week, we are excited to share several essays written by incarcerated, formerly incarcerated, and allied people on the crucial role of books in their lives.

READ THE ESSAYS


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Read Banned Books

In this reading list, we chose to spotlight 78 of the most banned books across America. Every book on this list has been banned over 4 times in schools and libraries. And everywhere, it is the books that have long fought for a place on the shelf that are being targeted. Books by authors of color, by LGBTQ+ authors, by women. Books about racism, sexuality, gender, history. Read banned books, and fight for the right to read

READ THE LIST