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US schools attempted to ban 49 books in 2013

Published time: December 23, 2013 21:22
Edited time: December 26, 2013 08:52
Andrew Burton / Getty Images / AFP

Andrew Burton / Getty Images / AFP

Censorship in American schools and libraries is on the rise as more institutions attempt to ban books tackling racial and sexual issues, as well as those written by minorities, according to the anti-censorship group Kids’ Right to Read Project.

In a report by the Guardian, the KRRP stated it has dealt with 49 separate cases of book bannings across 29 states this year, up more than 50 percent compared to the previous year. November alone found the group, part of the National Coalition Against Censorship, investigating three times the typical number of book bannings in the United States.

“Whether or not patterns like this are the result of co-ordination between would-be censors across the country is impossible to say,” said Acacia O'Connor to 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?’”

While most of the complaints filed have been done so by parents or local school districts, there have also been cases where state and local officials have gotten involved. According to the group, some of the books targeted include “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison, “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison, “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker, and “The House of the Spirits,” by Isabel Allende.

“It has been a sprint since the beginning of the school year,” O’Connor added. “We would settle one issue and wake up the next morning to find out another book was on the chopping block.”

If there was one bright spot in the situation, it’s that despite the increased reports of book bannings, there are also increased reports of books being reinstated once the KRRP became involved. The organization defeated the proposed banning of "The Diary of a young girl" by Anne Frank in Northville, Michigan. In December, it successfully reinstated Rudolfo Anaya's “Bless Me, Ultima” in schools in Driggs, Idaho, as well as “The House of the Spirits” in classrooms in Boone, North Carolina.

According to the American Library Association, the reason most books are banned is because of complaints concerning “sexually explicit” content, drug references, and crude language.

Earlier this year, schools in Alamogordo, New Mexico banned Neil Gaiman’s “Neverwhere” after only one parent complained, though the school board ultimately permitted classrooms to reintroduce the book.

“I’m just glad that organisations like the Kids’ Right to Read Project exist, and that so many of these challenges have successful outcomes – it’s obvious that without them, the people who do not want their children, or other people’s, exposed to ideas, would be much more successful at making books vanish from the shelves,” Gaiman said in a statement on the incident.

Comments (40)


Wendy Bramlett 30.12.2013 01:12

Many of these books are great pieces of literature, but just arent age appropriate. Would I want my elementary or even middle school student exposed to raw profanity, rape, or perverted illustrations? There is a time when they will be exposed to it, but I would like to control when. Also, as for values, I dont want a school or anyone else undermining our values. Check out the book The Boy Who looked Like Lincoln. Adults will find this book hilarious-- but that doesn't mean I want my 7 year old daughter reading it.


maximus zeebra 27.12.2013 15:20

In Europe and the US you now HAVE to accept the new values. No choice. They will stop at nothing to force you to accept them.

Goes well with the general tyrrany, anti democracy, manipulation/lies/de ceit, fascism and anti values society we are establishing in the west.


Regula 27.12.2013 08:36

Why is it that teachers and parents have so little trust in their children's ability to like or dislike a book at their own decisions? Why is it the parent or the teacher who should tell children what they should like and what not? Leave these kids deciding on their own, don't teach prejudice, teach freedom of thoughts.

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