The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) released preliminary data showing an uptick in efforts to censor books and other educational material. Between January and August 2023, a total 695 attempts were made and 1,915 titles were challenged. This is a 20 percent increase from 2020, and the majority of challenged books were “written by or about a person of color or a member of the LGBTQIA+ community.” PEN America’s Index of School Book Bans has a large list of banned and challenged books in U.S. schools between July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022, although there is not one resource that lists all affected titles.
When an educator wants to include diverse books in the classroom, they can start looking through the resources provided by We Need Diverse Books, the creators of this site. Teachers and libraries may also utilize the National Education Association’s initiative, Read Across America, which creates a monthly list of diverse books, accompanied by discussion questions and activities for each title. Educators may find that, even if a Native or Indigenous title has not been challenged/banned, they still have to justify why a given title should be included in their curriculum. Unite Against Book Bans is an initiative created by the American Library Association (ALA) to “empower readers” and “fight against censorship.” Their Freedom to Read statement and Action Toolkit familiarize educators with “talking points” to effectively convey why censorship is a slippery slope and why banning the access of books is not a way to protect children.
We Need Diverse Books also has extensive book banning resources available online. Educators can learn steps to take when facing a book challenge, and access a list of resources that provides a plethora of information on book banning.