Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SBU chapter.

Since the first book was banned ever in 1637, the demands to ban books have been on the rise in America. What started out as a way to protect readers, specifically children, has now taken an extreme right turn for the worst. 

What does it mean to ban books:

According to the First Amendment Encyclopedia, it is when books that challenge the norm or reality are removed from bookshelves, libraries, and school reading lists by private individuals (working alone), government officials, and organizations. Those who protest banning books do so out of fear the books might manipulate a child. 

Even so, I found in most cases it is the reality of adults not being ready to face the hard questions about identity and race. It is the fear of books being able to “present ideas, raise questions, and incite critical inquiry” (Webb 2009) that go against the adult’s belief. 

States where books are being banned:

Since the first book ever to be banned in America, “New English Canaan” by Thomas Morton in 1637, all states have banned at least one book. However, states like Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania are in the lead. Texas has banned nearly 801 books in 22 school districts; Florida is in second place with 566 books banned in 21 school districts; and Pennsylvania with 457 book bans in 11 school districts. 

To find out how many books have been banned in your state check out:  pen.org

“It represents an escalation, and we’re truly fearful that at some point we will see a librarian arrested for providing constitutionally protected books on disfavored topics”

Deborah Caldwell-Stone, library association director of the office of intellectual freedom. Originally published on The NY Times

Librarians who are fighting against the bans are being met with backlash and disrespect for their nature; continuously being called a “pedophiles” and a “groomers.” In Jamestown Charter Township, MI their only library, Patmos Library, is being forced to shut down for not removing an LGBTQ+ book — Gender Queer: A Memoir — off the shelf. The Patmos Library lost 84% of its funding after a tax levy failed back in August 2022. It failed for the second time after a November 10th vote. 

In the same state, Republican Tudor Dixon accused Michigan schools of providing “pornogrphic” books. As Amanda Marcotte wrote, a journalist for the Salon, these books include “anything from actual sex education books to books that simply have sex scenes;” the Bible being one of them. Along with wanting to put a ban on books depicting divorce because a child shouldn’t have to learn about it. 

What contents are being banned? 

For the past years LGBTQ+, POC as main characters (whether facing discrimination or not), sexual content (including, but not limited to, sex education), and addressing race and racism have become the target of removal or challenge. Of the books being banned or challenged: 75% are fiction; 49% are young adult books; 19% are picture books; 11% middle grade with another 11% being adult; and 10% are chapter books. 

Book banned by content: 

  • LGBTQ + depiction: 41% (674 books) 
  • POC who are main or secondary character: 40% (659 books)
  • Sexual content: teenage pregnancies, assault, abortion, sex ed: 22% (659 books) 
  • Addressing issues of race and racism: 21% (338 books) 

To view other banned contents click, pen.org

Did you know, between 2021 and 2022, roughly 2,500 books were banned in 138 schools across 32 states?

Banned and challenged children’s books:

  • “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You” by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds
  • “Bridge to Terabithia” by Katherine Paterson 
  • “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B White
  • “Where’s Waldo” by Martin Handford 
  • “Harriet the Spy” by Louise Fitzhugh 
  • “Drama” by Raina Telgemeier 
  • “Henry’s Freedom Box” by Ellen Levine and Katie Nelson
  • “Goosebumps: Retro Scream Collection” by R.L Stine
  • “I am Jazz” by Jessica Hershel 
  • “Hop on Pop” by Dr. Seuss
  • “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’engle
  • The Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling 
  • “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” by C.S Lewis

Some were not banned in all states, schools, or libraries 

Banned and challenged Young Adult (YA) books: 

  • “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury (ironic)
  • “We Are the Ants” by Shaun David Hutchinson 
  • “The Giver” by Lois Lowery
  • “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls
  • “Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher
  • “The Kingdom of Little Wounds” by Susann Cokal
  • “Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry” by Mildred D. Taylor 
  • “Speak” by Laurie Halse Anderson 
  • “The Hate You Give” by Angie Thomas 
  • “Beloved” by Toni Morrison
  • “The Handmade’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood
  • “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison 
  • “All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M. Johnson 
  • “Two Boys Kissing” by David Levithan 
  • “Eleanor and Park” by Rainbow Rowell 
  • “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green 
  • “The Catcher in The Rye” by J.D. Salinger

Some were not banned in all states, schools, or libraries

To check out more banned books, visit:  50 most banned books in america; children’s books that are banned; kids books have been banned or challenged and Top 100 Most Banned and Challenged books: 2010-2019

“The same people who are complaining about their first amendments being violated are the same people who are banning books.”

Charlese Market, educator and parent.

Organizations such as Moms for Liberty, No Left Turn in Education, United States Parent, and local FaceBook groups (just to name a few) have been protesting and very much active in censoring readership. Arguments like the ones made by Greenville County, South Carolina Councilor Joe Dill, “Protect the innocence of children” and the claim it elicits “grooming” made by pro-banner parents and some who HAVE NO children have been passed as valid arguments.

In reality — books do not groom— they inform. 

We live in a world where predators can be our next door neighbors or worse — in our family — under our roof. Children have access to the internet, smartphones and tablets at their discretion (granted by parents). We all know and should know how vulnerable children are to online pornography and predators disguised as children on social media. According to the Children Rescue Coalition, roughly 3,294 children have been rescued with only 14, 322 predators being arrested. Only 14,322 predators out of the thousands more hiding on the web. The organization has also noted before the age of 18 years old, one in five girls will be experience sexual assault; with one in 20 being boys. What makes this more challenging, 85% of “online predators are hands-on abusers of children.” Therefore, books are not predators. 

So why is the attention not on controlling and finding ways to protect children from online predators? Why is it so centered on books that can prove to be educational, support system, and most importantly, build empathy? 

When reading through the list of banned books, I found plenty that I have grown up with as a child and enjoyed reading (still till this day). As a child, it was emphasized to read a book, while most were boring to me, I found pleasure in R.L Stine. It was books like the Goosebumps collection and Fear Street that got me through the years and finding my love for creative writing. 

Many forget books like “Speak, The Hate You Give”, and “All Boys Aren’t Blue” have representation many children deeply need.

For example, Speak is about a high school girl who was sexually assaulted and struggled to find her voice after all that had happened. She is an example — a reflection — of the survivors who struggle to regain the pieces of their life. Personally, I read the book five times, in middle school leading into high school. I, myself, was able to see from a perspective other than my own and I thank Laurie Halse- Anderson, along with many other authors, for their contribution to my understanding of the world. 

“All of us worry about our children. I worry because my child has been subjected to hate and discrimination”

Susan Ward, a parent. Originally told The State

These books help to create an understanding of what another might be going through. There should not be a ban just because of one’s beliefs or restrictions on their own child. 

There are many organizations (to name a few) in the fight alongside, librarians, to stop bans and keep books on the shelves:

  • Baker & Taylor
  • Human Rights Campaign
  • Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
  • Freedom to Read Foundation
  • Penguin Random House
  • Simon & Schuster

There are always options

Instead of banning books, parents should have the right to read through and make suggestions to the school reading list before they are distributed to the classroom. If a parent denies the books being taught to their child, there should be an attempt to compromise. 

Many librarians already reiterated that younger youths are monitored when they check out books, so parents need to trust the librarians. After all — they did undergo a master’s degree to work behind shelves of books. 

Everyone can agree parents have the right to know what their youths are being taught. On the other hand, removing books permanently off school shelves is taking it too far. Parents should not control what children (in general) should and should not read. 


Alter, A., & Harris, E. A. (n.d.). Attempts to Ban Books Are Accelerating and Becoming More Divisive. The New York Time.https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/16/books/book-bans.amp  

Child Rescue Coalition. (n.d.). Child Rescue Coalition. https://childrescuecoalition.org/ 

Marcotte, A. (2022, October 28). Michigan GOP candidate Tudor Dixon wants a new book ban: No divorced characters. Salon. https://www.salon.com/2022/10/28/michigan-candidate-tudor-dixon-wants-a-new-book-ban-no-divorced- 

More than 25 organizations join forces with the American Library Association to Unite Against Book Bans. (2022, May 9). American Library Association. 

https://www.ala.org/news/press-releases/2022/05/organizations-join-ala-unite-aga inst-book-bans 

Movement to Censor Books in Schools. (2022, September 19). PEN America. https://pen.org/report/banned-usa-growing-movemen-to-censor-books-in-schools/

Martin, J. (n.d.). The 50 most banned books in America. CBS News. https://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/the-50-most-banned-books-in-america/

Pendharkar, E. (n.d.). Who’s Behind the Escalating Push to Ban Books? A New Report Has Answers.Education Week. 

https://www.edweek.org/leadership/whos-behind-the-escalating-push-to-ban-boo ks-a-new-report-has-answers/  

Riddle, L. (n.d.). This SC county to keep LGBTQ themed books in children’s library after emotional meeting Read more at: 


Scholastic Parents Staff. (2022, August 3). Groundbreaking Children’s Books That Have Been Challenged or Banned. Scholastic. 

https://www.scholastic.com/parents/books-and-reading/ook-lists-and-recommend ations/banned-books.html 

Shhhh! These Kid’s Books Have Been Banned (or Challenged). (n.d.). Evanston Public Library. https://www.epl.org/booklist/shhhh-these-kids-books-have-been-banned-o 

Sutcliffe, A. (2022, August 30). 28 Banned Books That Every Kid Needs to Read. Tiny Beans https://tinybeans.com/kids-books-and-childrens-books-that-are-banned-books/ 

Stein, E. (2022, November 10). Only library in Michigan town to close after voters defund it for refusing to ban LGBTQ books. USA Today.https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2022/11/10/lgbtq-books-library-mi-defunded-jamestown/8323736001/ 

The little-known history of banned books in the United States. (2020, September 28).Reading Partners.https://readingpartners.org/blog/history-banned-books-week/ 

This Heartbreaking Speech Blake Lively Gave on Child Sexual Exploitation is a Must Watch (VIDEO).(2018, May 16). Fight The New Drug. https://fightthenewdrug.org/blake-lively-speech-against-child-exploitation/

Webb, S. L. (2009). Book Banning. In The First Amendment Encyclopedia. https://www.mtsu.edu/first-amendment/article/986/book-banning

Hello, sunflower! Alicia Maxwell, meaning noble which she tries to live up to! Currently is a senior writer for the Her Campus SBU Chapter, soon to graduate with her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. Being an English Lit, she loves to explore and write a range of topics. She doesn’t believe one should limit their skills or knowledge. However, her favored topics are investigative work (i.e., handling our insecurities and housing crisis). Alongside writing for Her Campus, she recently interned abroad in Ireland for STELLARS magazine. For her, it was an experience and an eye-opener. She had the chance to explore a different side of writing (culturally as well). The one article that stuck with Alicia the most was “Eight Gorgeous Irish Markets To Visit This Summer.” Alicia loves markets! Having the chance to explore a few in another country was a dream come true. Before that year, Alicia also served on the college newspaper as a feature writer. The BonaVenture (what a creative name), published articles she conducted on the campus community. Her favorite piece has to be “Campus Community Reacts To The Death Of Tyre Nichols.” It was also her very first article written for the newspaper. Last, but never not least, she had interned for her college archives performing research on a past Bonna Student, Roi Ottley. Her work was combined onto the college archive's website to update what information they had on him. Aside from her work as a writer and student, she enjoys taking walks with her head in the clouds seeing the world from another perspective. She also loves browsing Netflix, critiquing and analyzing the artwork.