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Syracuse University Libraries

Banned Books Week: Banned vs. Challenged

Challenged vs. Banned

What does this really mean?

Challenged books: Materials that someone has attempted to remove or restrict from a curriculum or library collection.

Banned books: Materials that have been removed from a curriculum or library collection.

More Information

For more information, please see the American Library Association's Banned and Challenged Books website.  More figures and charts are also available at their challenges statistics website.

Where Are Books Challenged?

It might be closer than you think! This map represent the reported book bans and challenges that have occurred across the United States from 2007 to today:


View the full Book Bans and Challenges, 2007-2011 map.

Who Challenges Books?

Like the many reasons behind book challenges, the persons issuing them are also varied in nature.  According to the Office for Intellectual Freedom, these are the most common initiators:

Who initiates challenges? 32% parents, 33% patrons, 13% board/administration, 10% librarians/teachers, 6% political/religious groups, 3% elected officials, 3% students, Statistics based on 335 responses.

Why Are Books Challenged?

Books have been, and continue to be challenged and banned for a variety of reasons.  According to the Office for Intellectual Freedom, these are the most commonly cited reasons, with the most popular reasons indicated in larger font:

Reasons for book challenges: Gender nonconformity, obscenity, profanity, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, occult satanism, drugs, alcohol, smoking, dirty magazines, teen suicide, LGBTQIA+, racism, pornographic, glorifies criminals, cultural insensitivity, violence, sexually explicit, nudity, language, sex education, transgender characters, liberal propaganda, confuses children, anti-cop, same sex married couple, white supremacy