Read Banned Books!
Banning books from schools and libraries is a crisis in the United States. Restricting what educators can and can’t teach through state laws and school board mandates harms us all and impacts millions of young learners across the country.
We believe that when standard history curriculums fail to teach truth, they fail to teach a fuller narrative that includes the perspectives of the traditionally disenfranchised, the poor, BIPOC communities, women and workers. By focusing on a more honest look at the past, we'll better understand the present and be equipped with ways to improve the future.
Read banned books!
PEN America reported that between July 2021 to June 2022 there were 2,532 instances of individual books being banned, affecting 1,648 unique book titles. Between July and December 2022, instances of individual book bans occurred in 66 school districts in 21 states with bans most prevalent in Texas, Florida, Missouri, Utah and South Carolina.
The following book lists include banned or challenged books you can purchase at your independent neighborhood bookstore or from Bookshop.org, a website on a mission to financially support local, independent bookstores by connecting readers with independent booksellers all over the world.
Books authored by queer writers and that center queer characters
PEN America’s report showed that 41 percent of books banned between July 2021 to June 2022 explicitly address LGBTQ+ themes or have protagonists or prominent secondary characters who are LGBTQ+—including nine percent of titles for transgender characters or stories.
This book list was curated by ShopQueer.Co, an independent bookshop that splits profits with queer authors—when you purchase a book from them, the author gets at least double what they'd get anywhere else. Check out their website to learn more about their mission!
YOUNG ADULT (YA) BOOKS
Books to #TeachTruth
PEN America’s report showed that 10 percent of banned book titles between July 2021 to June 2022 have themes related to rights and activism and nine percent are either biography, autobiography, or memoir. As Seattle educator Jesse Hagopian says, “It makes a difference for young people to see themselves in history and learn that, rather than waiting for the luck of a hero to come along, we must all play a role.”
This book list was curated by the Zinn Education Project, which works to support educators teaching people’s history by offering free lessons, online classes, teacher study groups, and campaigns on topics including climate justice, reconstruction and the right to teach truthfully.
- A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart by Zetta Elliott
- Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre by Carole Boston Weatherford
- Barbed Wire Baseball by Marissa Moss
- Milo’s Museum by Zetta Elliott
- Sing a Song: How “Lift Every Voice and Sing” Inspired Generations by Kelly Starling Lyons
YOUNG ADULT (YA) BOOKS
- All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
- The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks (Adapted for Young People) by Jeanne Theoharis and Brandy Colbert
- Homegoing by Yaa Gyas
- Maus I: A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman
- Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez
- The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
- Angel of Greenwood by Randi Pink
- Pedagogy of the Oppressed: 50th Anniversary Edition by Paulo Freire
- A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michele Alexander
Books authored by BIPOC writers and center characters of color
PEN America’s report showed that 21 percent banned book titles between July 2021 to June 2022 directly address issues of race and racism and 40 percent contain protagonists or prominent secondary characters of color. African American Policy Forum’s Sumi Cho says, “Banning books and classroom teachings about racial injustice are not new ideas, they are the latest tactics to prevent social progress from eliminating structural inequalities.”
- Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard
- Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh
- Before She Was Harriet by Lesa Cline-Ransome
- Indian No More by Charlene Willing McManis and Traci Sorell
YOUNG ADULT (YA) BOOKS
- An Indigenous People's History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
- An African American and Latinx History of the United States by Paul Ortiz
- Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings that Formed the Movement by Kimberlé Crenshaw, Neil Gotanda and Garry Peller
- The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story created by Nikole Hannah-Jones
- Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde