Surge in Book Challenges Press Kit

A top view of the sides of several books behind a block of text that reads "BANNED AND CHALLENGED BOOKS Press Kit"

The American Library Association (ALA) champions and defends the freedom to read as promised by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. 

Efforts to ban books have persisted in American history, but those efforts are reaching unprecedented heights.

In 2022, ALA documented 1,269 demands to censor library books and resources – the highest number of attempted book bans since ALA began compiling data about censorship in libraries more than 20 years ago. Ninety percent of the overall number of books challenged were part of attempts to censor multiple titles. On September 20, 2023, ALA released new preliminary data documenting a continued uptick in attempts to censor books, materials, and services across public, school, and academic libraries in the United States between January 1 - August 31, 2023.

Contributing significantly to the skyrocketing number of book challenges is the prevalent use of lists of books compiled by organized censorship groups. Each attempt to ban a book by one of these groups represents a direct attack on every person’s constitutionally protected right to freely choose what books to read and what ideas to explore.

Media contacts:

Raymond Garcia,

Charisse Barnachea,

Infographic: Top Ten Most Chalenged Books of 2022:The American Library Association tracked 1,269 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services in 2022. Of the 2,571 unique titles that were challenged or banned in 2022, here are the top 13 most challenged: 1. Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe. Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, claimed to be sexually explicit. 2. All Boys Aren't Blue by George M. Johnson. Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, claimed to be sexually explicit. 3. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. Reasons: rape, incest, claimed to be sexually explicit, EDI content. 4. Flamer by Mike Curato. Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, claimed to be sexually explicit. 5. Looking for Alaska by John Green. Reasons: claimed to be sexually explicit, LGBTQIA+ content. 5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, claimed to be sexually explicit, rape, drugs, profanity. 7. Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison. Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, claimed to be sexually explicit. 8. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Reasons: claimed to be sexually explicit, profanity. 9. Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez. Reasons: claimed to be sexually explicit. 10. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas. Reasons: claimed to be sexually explicit. 10. Crank by Ellen Hopkins. Reasons: claimed to be sexually explicit, drugs. 10. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews. Reasons: claimed to be sexually explicit, profanity. 10. This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson. Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, sex education, claimed to be sexually explicit. Office for Intellectual Freedom, American Library Association.

Top 13 Most Challenged Books of 2022

Library staff in every state faced an unprecedented number of attempts to ban books. ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 1,269 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services in 2022, resulting in more than 2,571 unique title challenges or removals. Most targeted books were by or about Black or LGBTQIA+ persons.

Because many book challenges are not reported to the ALA or covered by the press, the Top Most Challenged Books lists and 2022 data compiled by ALA represent only a snapshot of book challenges. A challenge to a book may be resolved in favor of retaining the book in the collection, or it can result in a book being restricted or withdrawn from the library.

Download the two-page Infographic

Read more about the Top 13 Most Challenged Books

Photo of ALA President Emily Drabinski

Emily Drabinski
ALA President (2023-2024)

ALA President Emily Drabinski is critical pedagogy librarian at the The Graduate Center, City University of New York. She is a life member of ALA, and her past ALA service includes a term as chair of the International Relations Committee (2020-21), ALA councilor-at-large (2018-20), and chair of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Information Literacy Frameworks and Standards Committee (2019-20). Drabinski holds an MLIS from Syracuse University, a BA in political science from Columbia University, and an MA in composition and rhetoric from Long Island University, Brooklyn.

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Photo of Director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom Deborah Caldwell-Stone standing in front of library shelves.

Deborah Caldwell-Stone, JD
Director, ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom and Executive Director, Freedom to Read Foundation

For over two decades, Deborah Caldwell-Stone has advised librarians, teachers and library trustees on a wide range of intellectual freedom issues, including censorship of library resources, book challenges, internet filtering, and the impact of new technologies, regulations and government surveillance on library users' privacy and confidentiality. A former appellate litigator, Caldwell-Stone received her J.D. with Honors from Chicago-Kent College of Law.

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Press Releases / Statements 

September 27, 2023: Banned Books Week 2023: Programs, Day of Action, and Events Announced

September 20, 2023: LeVar Burton to lead 2023 Banned Books Week as honorary chair

September 19, 2023: American Library Association releases preliminary data on 2023 book challenges

September 14, 2023: ALA condemns threats of violence to Chicago-area libraries

July 17, 2023: President Obama Extends Support to American Librarians in an Open Letter

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June 25, 2023: American Library Association, Association of American Publishers Reaffirm 1953 Freedom to Read Statement, Joined by the Authors Guild and American Booksellers Association

June 22, 2023: American Library Association to Distribute $1 Million to Support Fight Against Censorship

June 8, 2023: American Library Association Welcomes White House Actions to Address Book Bans

June 5, 2023: Acclaimed Author Ibram X. Kendi to headline Rally for the Right to Read before ALA Conference

May 2, 2023: ALA Announces Theme for Banned Books Week, October 1-7, 2023

April 24, 2023: National Library Week kicks off with the highly anticipated annual list of Top 10 Most Challenged Books and State of America's Libraries Report

April 17, 2023: ALA calls for national day of action to protect the freedom to read, designates Right to Read Monday for 2023 National Library Week

March 27, 2023: American Library Association Condemns Ongoing Threats Against Libraries

March 22, 2023: American Library Association reports record number of demands to censor library books and materials in 2022

October 3, 2022: Unite Against Book Bans challenges candidates to oppose censorship, support librarians and educators as election season rolls in

September 19, 2022: Access to a Wide Variety of Reading Materials Is Critical for Student Development & Well-being

September 16, 2022: American Library Association Releases Preliminary Data on 2022 Book Bans

September 15, 2022: American Library Association Highlights Increasing Censorship Attempts During Banned Books Week Programming

August 9, 2022: American Library Association (ALA) Condemns Proposed State Legislation Limiting Access to Information on Reproductive Health

June 24, 2022: ALA Condemns Threats of Violence in Libraries

June 21, 2022: Authors Jason Reynolds, Nancy Pearl join high schoolers to Unite Against Book Bans at world’s biggest library event in Washington, D.C., June 25

June 1, 2022: Library, author, bookseller groups condemn legal action attempting to censor books in Virginia

May 9, 2022: More than 25 organizations join forces with the American Library Association to Unite Against Book Bans

April 9, 2022: ALA submits comments opposing book banning for House Oversight Committee hearing

April 4, 2022: National Library Week kicks off with State of America’s Libraries Report, annual 'Top 10 Most Challenged Books' list and a new campaign to fight book bans

March 24, 2022: Large majorities of voters oppose book bans and have confidence in libraries

November 29, 2021: The American Library Association opposes widespread efforts to censor books in U.S. schools and libraries

August 18, 2021: ALA Statement on Censorship of Information Addressing Racial Injustice, Black American History, and Diversity Education

Additional Resources

Unite Against Book Bans logo: graphic of a book opening with text that reads "Unite Against Book Bans"
Unite Against Book Bans

Unite Against Book Bans is ALA's national initiative to empower readers everywhere to stand together in the fight against censorship.

Colorful graphic of the United States. Text reads "Mapping Challenges to the Freedom to Read." ALA logo in top right.Censorship by the numbers

Censorship data from 2022 paints a vivid picture of attempts to ban or restrict library books and resources across the United States. We break down censorship by the numbers.

Colorful graphic of the State of America's Libraries Report cover. Text at bottom reads "Libraries adapt and innovate in the midst of record-breaking censorship challenges." A repot from ALA.
2023 State of America's Libraries Report

ALA's annual State of America's Libraries Report, which highlights the most critical issues facing libraries across the country. Includes 2022 censorship figures.

A shield with a flame symbol. Behind the shield is a pile of open books overtaken with fire.
"Fight Censorship" Resource Clearinghouse

A clearinghouse of resources to assist library workers and advocates in responding to and supporting others facing those challenges.

A pile of open books behind a block of text that reads "FREEDOM TO READ STATEMENT"ALA Freedom to Read Statement

The ALA Freedom to Read Statement was originally issued in May of 1953 by the Westchester Conference of the American Library Association and the American Book Publishers Council, and was last amended June 30, 2004.

Font-based graphic that reads "Library Bill of Rights"Library Bill of Rights Interpretations

Documents designated by the Intellectual Freedom Committee as Interpretations of the Library Bill of Rights and background statements detailing the philosophy and history of each.