Book challenges and bans in American libraries and schools in 2022 increased almost two-fold from 2021, the American Library Association announced in a news release.
There were 1,269 attempts to ban books in 2022; the number for the previous year was 729. Of the 2,571 books targeted by would-be censors, the “vast majority” were written by, or about, LGBTQ+ people or people of color.
The ALA says the increasing number of challenges and bans is due to a new tactic from individuals and organizations, in which lists of books, some with more than 100 titles, are targeted, rather than individual books.
The ALA report echoes one issued last September by PEN America, which found that book challenges and bans had increased in 2022 from the previous year, and that 41% of the targeted books featured LGBTQ+ characters, with 40% featuring characters who are people of color.
Deborah Caldwell-Stone, the director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, said that each of the attempted bans “represents a direct attack on every person’s constitutionally protected right to freely choose what books to read and what ideas to explore.”
“The choice of what to read must be left to the reader or, in the case of children, to parents,” Caldwell-Stone said. “That choice does not belong to self-appointed book police.”
The ALA plans to release its annual list of the previous year’s 10 most challenged or banned books next month, during National Library Week. The most recent list, reflecting books challenged in 2021, was topped by three books containing LGBTQ+ characters or themes: Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer, Jonathan Evison’s Lawn Boy, and George M. Johnson’s All Boys Aren’t Blue.
Michael Schaub, a journalist and regular contributor to NPR, lives near Austin, Texas.