June 29, 2022

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Attempts to ban books reached an all-time high in 2021

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The most targeted novel in 2021 was Maia Kobabe’s ‘Gender Queer: A Memoir,’ according to the report.

The American Library Association tracked 729 challenges to materials and services from libraries, schools and universities in 2021. 

The American Library Association tracked 729 challenges to materials and services from libraries, schools and universities in 2021. 

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More book bans were sought in 2021 than any previous year recorded by the American Library Association, according to the organization’s State of America’s Libraries Report 2022. The ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, which has been tracking book bans for 20 years, tracked 729 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services last year, resulting in more than 1,597 individual book challenges or removals.

“We support individual parents’ choices concerning their child’s reading and believe that parents should not have those choices dictated by others,” said ALA President Patricia “Patty” Wong. “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 most targeted books were by or about Black or LGBTQ people, the report said. At the top of the organization’s most challenged books of 2021 was Maia Kobabe’s “Gender Queer: A Memoir.” The graphic novel was banned, challenged, and restricted “for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to have sexually explicit images.”

The graphic novel has also been frequently targeted by Texas lawmakers, including Gov. Greg Abbott who in November cited “Gender Queer” during a call for investigations into whether students should have access to what he described as “pornographic books” in Texas schools.

The rest of the top five titles, “Lawn Boy,” “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” “Out of Darkness,” and “The Hate U Give,” were also frequently challenged in Texas school districts last year. 

The ALA report also found that most of the book challenges were initiated by parents more than any other group. In fact, parents initiated 39 percent of book challenges, followed by patrons at 24 percent, board/administration at 18 percent and political/religious groups at 10 percent. Librarians, teachers, elected officials and students were the groups that initiated the least amount of challenges. 


Most of the challenges tracked in the report took place at school libraries. However, the study shows that 37 percent of challenges also happened at public libraries.



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