The increasing number of book challenges continue to be an ever-present conversation among a wide variety of communities. According to Natalie Diblasior’s article Schools Once Again Face Bind over Censorship vs. Book Lists, the American Library Association (ALA) reports that in the United States schools have banned more than 20 books and faced more than 50 challenges in the year 2011 and that number is continuing to increase (2011). The National Director of the Anti-defamation League, Abraham Foxman, claims that challenges are most commonly influenced by politics and economy but usually initiated by parents (Diblasio, 2011). Many of the initiated challenges are because of parents seeking age-appropriate reading material that they personally do not see present in the school system.
In addition, politically motivated school boards try to determine what students read, what they think, and what teachers should teach thus creating more challenges (Diblasio, 2011). Library Association spokesperson Jennifer Petersen says that the challenges that are reported have declined from 513 in 2008 to 348 in 2011 but this may not include challenges that her group never learns about (Diblasio, 2011). There are plenty of challenges that go unnoticed, leading one to believe that this issue may be more predominant than initial reports say.
Book challenges happen in a number of different places. For instance, according to the Office of Intellectual Freedom, there were 491 book challenges in the year 2017. Of these reported challenges, 25% of them happen at school while 56% happen at public libraries illustrating how widespread book censorship can be. As well, based on a survey conducted, that received 318 responses, 42% of initiated challenges are from patrons while 32% are from parents thus demonstrating where many book challenges come from (2017).
Terra Dankowski, a writer for the American Libraries Magazine, reports in her article titled By the Numbers: Banned Books Week that 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982 (2015). As these numbers represent, book censorship is not a new rising issue but rather one that has been present for many years. As these problems, displayed by these statistics, surrounding book censorship continue to make their way into public rhetoric, they begin to threaten childrenr’s access to informative literature.
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