Book Bans and Censorship Are Happening at an Alarming Rate
Learn how you can help fight book bans in your community.
Recently, book bans and censorship have limited everyone’s access to literature, especially in schools. With over seven hundred attempts to ban books and 1,648 unique titles banned since 2022, millions of Americans are speaking out against censorship in literature.
To help fight back against censorship, here are some helpful resources on the topic.
The History of Book Bans
Book bans have existed for a while, with the first recorded book ban occurring in 250 B.C.E. Traditionally, book bans occur on a national or state level. They are ordered by a ruling party in charge of a country—for example, the Catholic church prohibited the Catholic population from accessing over four hundred books that challenged the church in 1559. In the 1930s and 1940s, Adolf Hitler ordered the banning and burning of hundreds of books written by Jewish people, communists, doctors, and LGBTQ+ healthcare providers.
Freedom to Read’s website has a great list of book bans and burnings throughout history.
Send an email to your Representatives to show your support for libraries!
Book Bans in America
In America, notable book bans occurred during eras of moral panic, with recent notable bans during the McCarthy era, the 1980s “Moral Majority” era, and today, with the main reason for banning them as “obscenity.”
Today, lawmakers attempt to ban books about sex, sexuality, and gender, as well as educational materials covering slavery and human rights violations previously enforced by the government. You may find books featuring gay, trans, or other LGBTQ+ characters on the banned list or versions of picture books with illustrations of queer characters.
Why Are Book Bans Bad?
Book bans make it harder for people, especially students, to access educational resources. Judith Krug, the inaugural director of the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom, states, "People don’t challenge materials that don’t say something to the reader.” While it’s true that most banned books are works of fiction, that doesn’t mean that these books don’t contain important messages for readers.
With the current focus on the Queer community, current book bans will limit children’s access to information about sex and vital resources for young, questioning kids who need to learn about themselves. Without access to these vital educational materials, Queer or questioning students’ lives are put at risk, as are heterosexual students who do not have access to information about safe sex.
Sign the petition to fight book bans!
What You Can Do
So, what can you do about book bans in schools and libraries?
Check Out Banned Books
Checking out banned books from your local library is a great way to see exactly why a book is being banned or threatened. By reading these books, you can educate yourself on the social issues shown in each specific book. Plus, checking out books shows your librarians that there is an active demand for these books in libraries.
If you’re old enough to vote, one of the best things you can do to fight book bans is to vote for local, state, and national leaders who are against book bans and want to keep literature free and accessible to everyone. One of the best ways to enact social change is through grassroots action: voting on a small-scale level to elect local leaders first. Next time your school board has an election, vote in it!
Staying up to date with the current political climate and what kinds of books people want to ban is essential for fighting book bans at any level. Knowing which kinds of books are in danger can also help provide insight as to what things people want to limit accessibility to, so you can further educate yourself and others about these issues through banned books.
If you enjoyed this article, save it! Use it as a tool to help educate others and fight against book bans everywhere.
Visit www.everylibrary.org to learn more about our work on behalf of libraries.
#librarymarketers: Enjoy this story? Want to use it for your library newsletter, blog, or social media? This article is published under Creative Commons License Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International and is free to edit and use with attribution. Please cite EveryLibrary on medium.com/everylibrary.
This work by EveryLibrary is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0