(NEW YORK)—Across the United States, local and state initiatives are regulating what can and cannot be taught to students. School boards are limiting students’ access to books, and elected leaders are passing laws to suppress education about history, race, and LGBTQ+ themes, among other topics.

Lush Cosmetics is joining PEN America, the free speech and literary advocacy organization, to present the Banned Book Library May 11 in Union Square Park and May 13 in Astor Place Plaza during the PEN America World Voices Festival. PEN America has been at the forefront of documenting book bans sweeping public schools across the United States.

This immersive public art installation details the rise in book bans across the United States and offers visitors the opportunity to understand the full scope of the crisis facing public schools, educators and students. Visitors exploring the library will gain access to:

  • More than 60 banned books by BIPOC and LGBTQ+ authors
  • A map highlighting the states that have implemented +2500 book bans and legislation impacting educators in the last 18 months
  • The opportunity to learn more about the growing movement to push back on educational censorship.


Banned Book Library Day 1

Thursday, May 11th 

10:00am – 6:00pm

Union Square Park 

(NW corner at E 17th & Broadway)

Banned Book Library Day 2

Saturday, May 13th

10:00am – 6:00pm

Astor Place Plaza

(NE corner at E 8th & Cooper Sq)

Lush’s work to support teaching the truth about history in the classroom was previously spotlighted in the 2022 North American Teach Truth campaign. By taking a truthful look at the past, Lush is helping equip students with the tools to make sense of and improve the world today. Through the sale of the limited-edition Knowledge Bath Bomb, consumers helped raise $355,000 to support educators in teaching a fuller history. Following the campaign, Lush purchased 13,000 copies of Jeanne Theoharis’ book, The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks, given free to educators across the country. The Banned Book Library was first displayed at SXSW, in Austin, Texas earlier this year.

According to a recent PEN America report, Banned in the USA: State Laws Supercharge Book Suppression in Schools, the number of individual book bans across the country increased by 28 percent during the first half of the 2022-23 school year compared to the prior six months. Since PEN America started tracking public school book bans in July 2021, the organization has recorded more than 4,000 instances of banned books through December 2022, affecting 2,253 unique titles. This includes 1,477 individual book bans affecting 874 unique titles during the first half of the 2022-23 school year.

The 18th PEN World Voices Festival, the organization’s largest gathering to date of literary stars, visionaries, and great thinkers from around the globe, takes place in downtown Manhattan with concurrent events in Los Angeles from May 10-13. Featuring more than 100 writers from 27 countries, the festival will celebrate great writing and the power of storytelling against the current headwinds of attacks by those who seek to censor and silence. For a full schedule of events, click here

To learn more about Lush’s work to support teaching the truth about history in the classroom click here. To read about PEN America’s work to track and fight back against book bans in the United States click here.

Press Contacts

For Lush: Carleen Pickard ([email protected], 415-400-9301) and Lexie Slavin ([email protected], 516-587-1077) 

For PEN America and the PEN World Voices Festival: Blake Zidell ([email protected], 917-572-2493) and Suzanne Trimel ([email protected], 201-247-5057)

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. To learn more visit