News & Politics

Book Censorship on the Rise in American Schools

There were at least 49 book bannings or removals from the classroom this year.

Photo Credit: BorisShevchuk/

Censorship of books is increasing across the United States.  A new report by the Kids’ Right to Read Project (KRRP), an initiative of the National Coalition Against Censorship, shows that an increasing number of books dealing with race and sexuality or written by authors of color are being withdrawn from classrooms, The Guardian notes.

In November, the project, which fights against such censorship, dealt with three times their normal caseload.  In 2013, the Kids’ Right to Read Project looked into 49 book bannings or removals from the classroom.  That was a 53 percent increase in bannings from last year.  Many of the challenges to books came from parents, though some also came from local government officials.

The banned books include classics like Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man; Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye; and Alice Walker’s The Color Purple.  

“Whether or not patterns like this are the result of co-ordination between would-be censors across the country is impossible to say,” KRRP’s Acacia O'Connor told The Guardian.  “But there are moments, when a half-dozen or so challenges regarding race or LGBT content hit within a couple weeks, where you just have to ask 'what is going on out there?'"

On the other hand, KRRP can count some success stories.  For instance, this months,  Rudolfo Anaya's Bless Me, Ultima was unbanned from classrooms in Driggs, Idaho. Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits was also unbanned from schools in Boone, North Carolina.


Alex Kane is former World editor at AlterNet. His work has appeared in Mondoweiss, Salon, VICE, the Los Angeles Review of Books and more. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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