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Banned and Challenged Books

This guide provides an overview and resources related to banned and challenged books.

Banned and Challenged Books

This guide provides an overview and resources related to banned and challenged books.

The American Library Association (ALA) defines a banned book as a book that has been removed from the shelf of a library or school. According to ALA, a challenged book is a book that a person, group, or authority thinks should be removed, but is still on a library or school's shelves.

The Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2023




America's First Banned Book

New English Canaan by Anglican lawyer Thomas Morton was banned by the Puritans in the Massachusetts Bay Colony shortly after its 1637 publication. Read more in the article, "How America's First Banned Book Survived and Became an Anti-Authoritarian Icon" written by Colleen Connolly and published in Smithsonian Magazine by clicking this link.

Timeline: 30 Years of Liberating Literature

Since 1982, Banned Books Week has rallied librarians, booksellers, authors, publishers, teachers, and readers of all types to celebrate and defend the freedom to read. As we commemorate 30 years of Banned Books Week and enter the 31st year of protecting readers' rights, ALA has unveiled this timeline highlighting one significant banned or challenged book from each of the years 1982 through 2012. Timeline powered by Tiki-Toki.

Timeline image

All information sourced from the 2010 Banned Books Week resource guide, Banned Books: Celebrating Our Freedom to Read, edited by Robert P. Doyle (ALA, 2010); the Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom; and additional content supplied by Angela Maycock, Assistant Director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.

Libraries: An American Value

Libraries in America are cornerstones of the communities they serve. Free access to the books, ideas, resources, and information in America’s libraries is imperative for education, employment, enjoyment, and self-government.

Libraries are a legacy to each generation, offering the heritage of the past and the promise of the future. To ensure that libraries flourish and have the freedom to promote and protect the public good in the 21st century, we believe certain principles must be guaranteed.

To that end, we affirm this contract with the people we serve:

  • We defend the constitutional rights of all individuals, including children and teenagers, to use the library’s resources and services;
  • We value our nation’s diversity and strive to reflect that diversity by providing a full spectrum of resources and services to the communities we serve;
  • We affirm the responsibility and the right of all parents and guardians to guide their own children’s use of the library and its resources and services;
  • We connect people and ideas by helping each person select from and effectively use the library’s resources;
  • We protect each individual’s privacy and confidentiality in the use of library resources and services;
  • We protect the rights of individuals to express their opinions about library resources and services;
  • We celebrate and preserve our democratic society by making available the widest possible range of viewpoints, opinions and ideas, so that all individuals have the opportunity to become lifelong learners - informed, literate, educated, and culturally enriched.

Change is constant, but these principles transcend change and endure in a dynamic technological, social, and political environment.

By embracing these principles, libraries in the United States can contribute to a future that values and protects freedom of speech in a world that celebrates both our similarities and our differences, respects individuals and their beliefs, and holds all persons truly equal and free.

Adopted February 3, 1999, by the
Council of the American Library Association

Book Banning: Opposing Viewpoints in Context

The Gale in Context: Opposing Viewpoints database provides access to full text literature about current controversial issues. Available material on each topic includes viewpoint essays, topic overviews, newspaper and magazine articles, statistics, and links to related web sites. The database's content on book banning gives a concise overview and links to news, statistics, infographics, and more. Click this link for access to subject content.