Parental Rights groups and politicians behind banning books continue to decide about the information American children can read. According to the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom, “2,571 unique titles to be banned or challenged in 2022.” That is an increase of nearly 40% over the previous year.
The push to censor information available to youth in public schools and libraries weakens democracy. When students are not taught the truth, it minimizes their First Amendment rights and instills a whitewashed perspective on tomorrow’s leaders. The nation will succumb to more significant authoritarian threats without a well-informed citizenry.
“There has never been a time in the United States history when less information was better than more,” explains Amol Sinha in his commentary.
According to PEN America, 40% of the books banned between July 2021 and June 2022 “had protagonists or prominent secondary characters of color, and 21% had titles with issues of race or racism.”
Additionally, 41% of challenged or banned titles have content relating to LGBTQIA+ identities and themes. However, similar books have faced heavy scrutiny and calls for censorship. For example, Judy Blume’s 1970 novel, “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.” Blume has faced decades of backlash for her books discussing sexuality and self-image.
NPR reports that “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe is again the number one banned book this year. The 2019 book is “a graphic memoir that follows Koabae’s journey into exploring their own gender and queer identity.”
Book Banning Violates One of America’s Bedrock Freedoms
At a White House event honoring educators earlier this year, President Joe Biden declared that books were part of America’s “bedrock freedoms.” He further pointed out these freedoms were threatened by “MAGA extremists.”
I never thought I’d be a president who is fighting against elected officials trying to ban, and banning, books.
American Library Association President Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada explained how the book-banning campaign has increased:
Now we’re seeing organized attempts by groups to censor multiple titles throughout the country without actually having read many of these books.
Finally, 16-year-old Elle Mahltretter told NPR’s Tovia Smith about bypassing online book bans in Florida, her home state. She said:
You can say you ban books all you want, but you can never really ban them because they’re everywhere.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
NPR: Book bans are getting everyone’s attention — including Biden’s. Here’s why; By Manuela Lopez Restrepo
New Jersey Monitor: Book bans foreshadow more than empty shelves; Commentary by Amol Sinha
Index on Censorship: All lose out when books are banned; By Ruth Anderson