Efforts to ban books in US libraries have reached an all-time high with 1651 books targeted so far in 2022, according to the American Library Association, a group of librarians and library professionals. In 2021 there were 1597 such titles targeted. PEN America, an organization advocating for literary freedom, concurs. What is different in 2022 is the increased organization of the groups wanting to ban books and the targeting of not one book at a time but of whole groups of books.
Targeted books fall into three groups, according to PEN America:
- 41% contain material related to LGBTQ issues or characters,
- 40% contain main or important characters who are not white, and
- 21% address racism.
Most of the efforts to ban books have been led by about fifty groups, many formed in 2022. Social media is helping to spread the message and to propagate groups like Moms for Liberty whose branches are popping up all over the country. Conservative politicians seeking public office are also demanding that books be banned.
In addition to books targeted because of their 21st century gender content and racial content, many so-called “classic” biographies and novels have been targeted. Here are some examples:
- Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
- The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
- The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
One Texas library has even removed the Bible from its shelves.
Celebrate Banned Book Week September 18 to 24 by reading a book, banned or otherwise.