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 2022-2023 school year.
WE CLIMB THIS HILL TOGETHER
Amanda Gorman’s book of the poem, The Hill We Climb, was recently removed from elementary school shelves in Miami Lakes, FL, based on the complaint of a single individual who claims the poem “is not educational and have indirectly hate messages.” Also, the ABC’s of Black History by Rio Cortez, Love to Langston by Tony Medina, and Cuban Kids by George Ancona were also removed from school shelves. Tell Miami-Dade County Schools Superintendent and the administrators at the Bob Graham Educational Center that Amanda’s inaugural poem most certainly belongs on all school shelves.
PEN America, Penguin Random House, and a diverse group of authors have joined with parents and students from Escambia County, Florida, to file a federal lawsuit challenging removals and restrictions of books from school libraries that violate their rights to free speech and equal protection under the law.
Research and Reports
Banned in the USA: State Laws Supercharge Book Suppression in Schools
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 2022-23 school year (Fall 22)
- 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
Frequently Banned Books Featuring Transgender StoriesMarch 30, 2023
These books are banned in Martin County, FloridaMarch 13, 2023
Florida Book Bans Are No Hoax: Here Are The FactsMarch 10, 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.