Today, books in the US are under profound attack. 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 which undergirds it.
PEN America tracks book bans in libraries and classrooms across America in our Index of School Book Bans, updated weekly.
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.
Report A Book Ban
Research and Reports
Banned in the USA: Rising School Book Bans Threaten Free Expression and Students’ First Amendment Rights (April 2022)
From PEN America
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.