Books are under profound attack in the United States. They are disappearing from library shelves, being challenged in droves, being decreed off limits by school boards, legislators, and prison authorities. 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. PEN America pushes back against the banning of books and the intolerance, exclusion, and censorship that undergird it.
PEN America tracks all book bans in libraries and classrooms across the U.S. in our Index of School Book Bans, updated for the 2021-2022 school year.
Research and Reports
Banned in the USA: The Growing Movement to Censor Books in Schools (September 2022)
Banned in the USA: Rising School Book Bans Threaten Free Expression and Students’ First Amendment Rights (April 2022)
Missing from the Shelf: Book Challenges and Lack of Diversity in Children’s Literature
Literature Locked Up: How Prison Book Restriction Policies Constitute the Nation’s Largest Book Ban
What is a book ban? And other frequently asked questions.
Book bans in public schools have recurred throughout American history, with notable flare-ups in the McCarthy era and the early 1980s. But, while long present, the scope of such censorship has expanded drastically and in unprecedented fashion since the beginning of the 2021–22 school year.
This FAQ answers some of the most common questions about Book Bans in America, today and throughout American history.
- Banned book list: The most banned books of the 2021-2022 school year
- The most banned picture books of the 2021-2022 school year
From PEN America
Florida Book Bans Are No Hoax: Here Are The FactsMarch 10, 2023
PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel Responds to Remarks by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis that Book Bans Are a ‘Hoax’March 8, 2023
The Most Banned Picture Books of the 2021-2022 School YearFebruary 14, 2023
Report A Book Ban
PEN America is hard at work fighting the the educational gag orders, book bans, and “transparency” bills that threaten free expression and academic freedom in the classroom. Sign up to receive email updates about PEN America’s vital work on these issues, including reports, legislative roundups, media coverage, and advocacy alerts.