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Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week: Why Are Books Banned?

Authorities tend to challenge books with the best of intentions—to protect others, frequently children, from difficult ideas and information.

Censorship can be subtle, almost imperceptible, as well as blatant and overt.

The motivation for challenges often comes from a desire to protect children from “inappropriate” sexual content or “offensive” language. The Office of Intellectual Freedom cites the following as the top three rationales for challenging books:

  1. "Sexually explicit" content
  2. "Offensive language"
  3. "Unsuited to any age group"

The American Library Association's Library Bill of Rights states that, “Librarians and governing bodies should maintain that parents—and only parents—have the right and the responsibility to restrict the access of their children—and only their children—to library resources.” Censorship by librarians of constitutionally protected speech, whether for protection or for any other reason, violates the First Amendment.

All information copied from the ALA website:

Different Ways That Books Get Banned

There are four different ways in which books get banned:

The Library has four reference books, listed below, which go into specific details as to why books are banned in each category:

Book Challenges by State

View Book Bans and Challenges, 2007-2010 in a larger map

This map is drawn from cases documented by ALA and the Kids' Right to Read Project, a collaboration of the National Coalition Against Censorship and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression. Details are available in ALA's "Books Banned and Challenged 2007-2008,"  and "Books Banned and Challenged 2008-2009," and the "Kids' Right to Read Project Report."

Map and text copied from

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