Book ban attempts reach record high, new stats show

A record number of books have been challenged so far in 2023.

Between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31, the American Library Association reported 695 attempts to censor library books, and documented challenges to 1,915 unique titles.

This is an increase of 20% over the last year in the same time period, and the highest number of challenges the organization has seen since it started keeping track more than two decades ago.

But book challenges are not new. Books have been banned or challenged throughout history.

Prior to 2021, most challenges tried to remove or restrict a singular book at a time, according to the ALA.

More recently, the challenges have been focused on books written by or about a person of color or a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, and some of these challenges have happened in bulk with multiple books questioned at once.

For example, Texas has seen 30 ban attempts with more than 1,100 titles challenged. States such as Vermont, North Dakota, and Mississippi have seen zero ban attempts.

Advocates for book bans say children should not be exposed to certain topics, and parents should decide what their kids are exposed to.

Those against book bans say leaders can’t decide what books kids do and do not have access to, and books can provide documentation of different life experiences.

This week is Banned Books Week, which was launched in 1982 after a surge of challenges to books in libraries, schools, and stores. The event was created to highlight the value of free and open access to information.

@scrippsnews It’s Banned Books Week, an awareness campaign focused on the freedom to read challenged and banned books. As of the end of August, the American Library Association reported 695 attempts to censor library books so far this year. #BannedBooks #reading #booktok ♬ original sound – Scripps News