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A record number of book challenges emerged across the country in 2022, with more than 2,570 unique titles targeted, according to new data from the American Library Association.
READ MORE: The 13 most banned and challenged books of 2022
The most common titles targeted in these bans address race, gender identity, sexuality and reproductive health. Maia Kobabe’s “Gender Queer” had the most challenges — 151 total — for the second year in a row, according to the ALA.
The ALA’s figures are based on a combination of news reports on attempted book bans and voluntary accounts from schools and libraries. The association said its data is likely an undercount, with as many as 97 percent of challenges go unreported. Each book ban attempt can include multiple titles, and a single title can also be challenged multiple times in one state (for example, in different library districts).
Texas had the most attempts to restrict books — at 93 total — last year. Toni Morrison’s debut 1970 novel “The Bluest Eye” was the most challenged book in the state.
The ALA created the map below to show how many books were challenged, and the most-challenged titles. Where does your state fall?
Some states, including West Virginia and New Mexico, saw fewer attempts to remove or restrict books in 2022. Other states, like Pennsylvania and Michigan, had more than 50 restriction attempts last year.
All the top 13 most challenged books in 2022 were accused of containing sexually explicit content, according to the ALA’s snapshot released Monday. These challenges also focused on many of the books’ LGBTQ+ themes, according to the ALA’s latest report. That would include Kobabe’s “Gender Queer,” which is in small part a homage to finding queer books on library shelves.
Jenna Cohen is the Roy W. Howard fellow at PBS NewsHour. Working on the digital team, she specializes in data, design and graphics.
Joshua Barajas is a senior editor for the PBS NewsHour's Communities Initiative. He also the senior editor and manager of newsletters.
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