The rise in book banning

Conservative groups are pushing to pull books on issues of race, gender, sexuality, LGTBQ topics, and history. What's behind this rise in book challenges and what's at risk?

Listen 49:00

There has been an increase in efforts to ban books from school libraries, classrooms and reading lists. Some conservative groups and individuals are pressing to remove books from shelves if they address certain issues of race, gender, sexuality, LGTBQ topics, social justice and history. The latest target is Maus, Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel about the Holocaust. Some of the most challenged books in recent years include The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, George by Alex Gino, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas, I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

This hour, we’ll discuss the rise in book challenges around the country, what’s motivating them and the books and themes that are being targeted. We’ll also talk about the power of books to change the way people see the world.

Emily Knox, associate professor in the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and author of Book Banning in 21st Century America. @ejmknox

Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. @OIF

Carmen Maria Machado, author of the memoir In the Dream House, a book that is banned in some school district.

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal