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  • Susan Stoderl

Banning Books | An Attack on Child and Adult Literacy

A small embittered minority is attacking K-12 school libraries and public libraries. They attack and ban teaching that does not agree with their small, controlling viewpoint. Who pays the price of this ignorant political agenda? Children and young adults seeking needed information on growing up and self-expression.

PEN America was founded in 1922 and is part of more than one hundred other centers worldwide. The organization works to ensure people everywhere have the freedom of expression regarding their views, ideas, and writings. It is an organization composed of over 7,500 writers of all types, publishers, translators, agents, as well as readers and supporters of PEN America’s mission.

Frightening and concerning words were found in an article on banning books.*

… from July 1, 2022, to June 31, 2023, PEN America recorded 3,362 instances of book bans in US public school classrooms and libraries. These bans removed student access to 1,557 unique book titles, [and] the works of over 1,480 authors, illustrators, and translators. Authors … targeted are most frequently female, people of color, and/or LGBTQ+ individuals.

Key Findings (paraphrased except when in quotes)

  1. There was an increase of 33% in book banning in 2022-23 from that of the 2021–22 school year.

  2. Book ban cases included 1,406 in Florida, 625 in Texas, 333 in Missouri, 281 in Utah, and 186 in Pennsylvania. Note the corresponding literacy rates: Florida 80.3%, Texas - 81.0%, Missouri 81.1%, 85.5 in Utah, and Pennsylvania 81.9%. Only Utah is in the top ten states for the high school graduation rate. The Mormon church stresses education and Brigham Young University's average applicant has a 3.9 GPA. It is also important to note that as a Mormon, you can go to college for one-half tuition and it is a good university.

  3. Aside from the standard reasons for banning books such as “‘porn in schools’ and ‘sexually explicit,’ ‘harmful,’ and ‘age inappropriate,’” other “book bans target books on race or racism or featuring characters of color, as well as books with LGBTQ+ characters. This year, banned books also include books on physical abuse, health, and well-being, and themes of grief and death. Notably, most instances of book bans affect young adult books, middle-grade books, chapter books, or picture books—books specifically written and selected for younger audiences.”

  4. “Eighty-seven percent of all book bans were recorded in school districts with a nearby chapter or local affiliate of a national advocacy group known to advocate for book censorship. Sixty-three percent of all book bans occurred in eight states with legislation that has either directly facilitated book bans or created the conditions for local groups to pressure and intimidate educators and librarians into removing books.”


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