In the past year, book challenges have been on the rise. It is not unusual for school and public libraries to have people contest items in the collection. In fact every year the American Library Association shares a list of the top ten most challenged books. Librarians have established procedures in place to address complaints along with collection policies to support them.
However, the recent wave of book challenges in schools and public libraries is a new breed of challenge. In a recent article by Valerie Strauss in the Washington Post titled This wave of book bans is different from earlier ones, she points out there is a particular subject matter in contention.
Now we are seeing a new wave of book bans, marked by an unprecedented number of challenges and intense polarization. Its focus: narrowing the universe of information in schools and public libraries that might challenge young people on race and gender — the same issues at the center of the political and cultural wars ripping through the country.
What makes this round also different is that there appears to be a greater national coordination on messaging and the books being challenged.
Advocacy groups are working to nationalize book challenges, this time with the help of conservative TV and talk shows, that for the past few decades have been mostly local events. Some state legislators are threatening punitive action against anyone in schools or libraries who spreads material deemed obscene or harmful to minors. And now students, parents, librarians and school boards are fighting back, calling the push censorship.