Bookstr’s 2023 Book Ban Roundup: This Year’s Important News

This past year, there was a neverending barrage of book ban news as censorship attempts rose. Here are some of the most important updates from 2023.

Book Bans Book Culture Book News
Overlapping open books with a red "banned" sign over them.

As libraries, schools, and other institutions continue to face book censorship attempts daily, it’s more important than ever to stay up to date with the current state of book bans in the U.S. Bookstr has been reporting on book ban news throughout 2023, so as this year comes to a close, we’re here to bring you a collection of essential book censorship news that you should catch up on before the new year begins. Keep reading for the rundown!

1. The Complicated History of Book Bans in the United States

Book burning in front of a black background.
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If you’re looking for a brief history of book bans to contextualize the rest of this news for you, this article is exactly what you need! The article traces the phenomenon of book banning from the very first book ban in the U.S. to the present. It provides a great overview of the issue for readers who may be unfamiliar with this history or those who need a quick refresher before diving into the rest of the articles below.

2. Illinois Set to Become First State to End Book Bans

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker standing behind a podium giving a speech.
IMAGE VIA NAM Y HUH / ASSOCIATED PRESS

As more and more book bans roll out across the country, Illinois is poised to be the first state to end book censorship in publicly funded institutions like libraries and schools. This article outlines the details of bill HB2789, examining the potential impact it could have on librarians, teachers, and others who are on the frontlines of fighting book bans. If enacted, this bill could set a precedent for other states to follow Illinois’s lead.

3. Mobile Library Made As Ultimate Protest To LGBTQ+ Book Bans

Colorfully painted bus with a sign that says "stop hate" and a crowd of people adorned with pride flags.
IMAGE VIA SHOPQUEERCO

Many authors have been using their platforms and resources to fight book banning attempts, including bestseller Eric Cervini. This article describes how Cervini and his partner converted a used school bus into a mobile library to provide students access to LGBTQ+ literature. This “Rainbow Book Bus” aims to combat censorship of books with LGBTQ+ themes, which are frequently banned in schools and libraries.

4. Texas County Officials Are Being Sued For Unconstitutional Book Ban!

Shelves of books behind an image of a book being crossed out.
IMAGE VIA CANVA & BOOKSTR / GRACIE LAMBRIGHT

There have been a myriad of lawsuits involving book bans filed this year. This article delves into a lawsuit filed against local officials in Llano County, Texas for their attempts to censor a multitude of books in the Texas County Library. While the local officials tried to claim that these books needed to be censored for containing content that wasn’t appropriate for children, the judge presiding over the case ruled that these bans were unconstitutional, and 17 titles were returned to the Texas County Library.

5. Let Children Read: Students Against Book Bans

A student browsing bookshelves in a library.
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While book bans have become a hot topic in school systems all across the country, students are often left out of these conversations. This article points out the problem with banning books on the basis of protecting young readers without consulting children and teens about their feelings on book censorship first. It also amplifies the voices of students who have spoken out against book bans, highlighting the need for students to be included in future conversations surrounding book censorship.

6. Exposed: The Truth About Book Bans in U.S. Prisons

Bookshelves behind metal prison bars.
IMAGE VIA CANVA & BOOKSTR / LAUREN NEE

While many people are aware that book bans impact libraries and schools, fewer are aware of the pervasiveness of book censorship in U.S. prisons. This article outlines the main findings of a recent PEN America report on book bans in prisons, exposing how a lack of documentation around book censorship and the broad implementation of book bans has made it difficult for individuals and organizations to fight book censorship in the U.S. prison system.

7. New App Allows Access to Banned Books in Your Area

Phone screen with The Banned Book Club app pulled up in front of a collage of various banned books.
IMAGE VIA SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE

As book bans become more widespread, more efforts are being made to maintain access to banned literature. This article outlines one such effort, which comes in the form of a program called The Banned Book Club. This initiative is headed by The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), which launched an app that provides people with digital access to banned books earlier this year. If you have trouble accessing certain books at your local library due to book bans, read this article to learn how The Banned Book Club can help you get around this censorship!

8. Latest on Book Banning: Pink Advocating for Accessibility

Pink smiling as she stands in the doorway of a tour bus.
IMAGE VIA P!NK

Fortunately, book ban news isn’t all doom and gloom. There are plenty of organizations and public figures dedicated to fighting book censorship, such as the singer P!nk. This article describes P!nk’s effort to increase access to literature by giving away 2,000 banned books at two of her concerts in Florida, which is notably one of the states facing the heaviest book censorship.

9. Penguin Random House Files Lawsuit Over Book Bans in Iowa

Last Night at the Telegraph Club cover and Looking for Alaska cover in front of a collection of open books.
IMAGE VIA BOOKSTR / KIT WAKELIN

Many publishers are making strides to fight book bans and keep their books circulating in schools. This article discusses the recent lawsuit Penguin Random House filed against an education bill that restricted how sexuality and gender identity could be discussed in Iowa schools. This bill would enable the censorship of certain books, as titles that examine sexuality and gender identity could potentially be challenged for containing age-inappropriate content.

10. Gifting Places That Give the Most: How to Help Libraries Impacted by Book Bans

Librarian handing a patron a stack of books.
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Rounding out this list is a resource for anyone looking to give back to their local librarians this holiday season. This article outlines several simple steps you can take to help libraries affected by book bans. Libraries play an essential role in maintaining free access to information and knowledge, so give this article a read if you want to help protect libraries’ right to continue sharing important resources with the public.


Check out more of Bookstr’s 2023 roundups here or here.

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