“EveryLibrary is excited to launch the Banned Book Store at bannedbookstore.co as the most comprehensive list of currently banned and challenged books in the United States. Many of the book challenges come from individuals who have never read the books and who have been encouraged by national right wing organizations to present excerpts out of context to villainize and demonize librarians while building a case for horrific legislation that allows the government to bans books that don’t agree with their current political ideologies. According to a report by PEN America, book bans have targeted 1,145 unique book titles by 874 different authors, 198 illustrators, and 9 translators, impacting the literary, scholarly, and creative work of 1,081 people altogether. Among titles in PEN’s index:
- 467 titles (41%) included protagonists or prominent secondary characters who were people of color;
- 247 titles (22%) directly address issues of race and racism
- 379 titles (33%) explicitly address LGBTQ+ themes, or have protagonists or prominent secondary characters who are LGBTQ+
- 184 titles (16%) are history books or biographies. 107 have explicit or prominent themes related to rights and activism (9%).
- 42 children’s books were censored, including biographies of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Ruby Bridges, Duke Ellington, Katherine Johnson, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Cesar Chavez, Sonia Sotomayor, Nelson Mandela, and Malala Yousafzai.
Many other censorship measures in several US states could keep you from being allowed to read some books in our Nation’s libraries. These books are being banned by government organizations in libraries across the country simply because a handful of extremists disagree with the content of the books. Some of these measures could also lead to the arrest of librarians as a result of their commitment to free speech and access to library materials. Some provide monetized incentives to ban books. Yet, we know that exposure to a wide range of developmentally appropriate reading materials has significant benefits on the health, livelihood, and well-being of our nation’s children. Books help develop empathy for others. They help children imagine lives and experiences that are new to them or different than their own. In fact, A 2014 study found that children became more empathetic toward LGBTQ+ folks, immigrants, and refugees after reading Harry Potter, a story of a child who is different than his peers.”