Book ban attempts reach highest level in 20 years, new report finds

Attempts to ban books reached a two-decade high in the US last year, a new report shows.

The American Library Association (ALA) monitored attempts to ban books in libraries, schools, and universities in 2021 and found 729 such challenges.

Those challenges resulted in more than 1,597 individual book challenges or removals, the ALA noted in a report released on Monday (4 April), noting that “most targeted books were by or about Black or LGBTQIA+ persons.”

“The 729 challenges tracked by ALA represent the highest number of attempted book bans since we began compiling these lists 20 years ago,” ALA President Patricia Wong said in a statement.

“We support individual parents’ choices concerning their child’s reading and believe that parents should not have those choices dictated by others. Young people need to have access to a variety of books from which they can learn about different perspectives. So, despite this organized effort to ban books, libraries remain ready to do what we always have: make knowledge and ideas available so people are free to choose what to read.”

The tracking was done by ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.

The top 10 most challenged books according to the ALA include the memoir Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe, the coming-of-age novel lawn boy by Jonathan Evison, the memoir-manifesto All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M Johnson, the historical young adult novel Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez, and the young adult novel The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

Also on the list are Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time IndianJesse Andrews’s Me and Earl and the Dying GirlToni Morrison’s The Bluest EyeJuno Dawson’s This Book is Gayand Susan Kuklin’s Beyond Magenta.

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