53% Increase in Books Banned by U.S. Schools
Book banning went up significantly in American schools during 2013, causing an anti-censorship group to fight multiple battles across the country.
The Kids’ Right to Read Project (KRRP), part of the National Coalition Against Censorship, says attempts to remove books from classrooms and libraries went up 53% this year, based on 49 attempts in 29 states.
The second half of 2013 was particularly busy with 31 incidents. The same period during 2012 only witnessed 14 attempts to ban books.
KRRP’s Acacia O'Connor wondered if the increase represented an orchestrated effort by censors.
“Whether or not patterns like this are the result of co-ordination between would-be censors across the country is impossible to say,” she told The Guardian. “But there are moments, when a half-dozen or so challenges regarding race or LGBT content hit within a couple weeks, where you just have to ask ‘what is going on out there?’”
Some of the books targeted for removal included Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, Alice Walker's The Color Purple, Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Isabel Allende's The House of the Spirits and Rudolfo Anaya's Bless Me, Ultima.
Efforts to keep books away from students didn’t always succeed.
KRRP often challenged decisions to ban books. The group managed to get Bless Me, Ultima back in English classrooms in Driggs, Idaho, and The House of the Spirits returned to Watauga County Schools in Boone, North Carolina.
The group also got Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman put back on school shelves in Alamogordo, New Mexico, where a single parent’s complaint resulted in a temporary ban.
A similar reversal happened in Northville, Michigan, where one parent complained about “pornographic” sections of The Diary of Anne Frank. Again, KRRP convinced school officials to reinstate the book.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie was labeled “anti-Christian” in numerous states (Montana, New York, New Jersey and West Virginia). KRRP said it “went to bat for [this book] more than any other work in 2013.”
To Learn More:
Book Bannings on the Rise in US Schools, Says Anti-Censorship Group (by David Barnett, The Guardian)
Kids’ Right to Read Top Banned Books of 2013…Help Support Our Fight! (Blogging Censorship)
Neil Gaiman Novel Banned by New Mexico School After Mother Objects (by David Barnett, The Guardian)
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