Book banning isn’t a thing of the past. We spoke to authors who have experienced it.

Book banning isn’t a thing of the past. We spoke to authors who have experienced it.

This kind of broad-reaching censorship may seem like an antiquated notion, but censorship in the United States is alive and well, said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, who directs the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. Caldwell-Stone noted that communities diversifying faster than the national average are facing more battles over equity initiatives.

“I think it’s one of the few ways some folks believe they can control the world around them,” Caldwell-Stone said. “There’s changes going on that that they can’t control. And so one thing they can control are the books that their children are reading or that the children in their community are reading.”

Caldwell-Stone’s office tracks these kinds of challenges to library, school and university materials. Every year, they publish a list of the country’s 10 most challenged books, which is compiled from voluntary submissions and media reports. Because the list is anecdotal, it portrays only a sliver of book challenges in the United States, Caldwell-Stone said: The association estimates that between 82 and 97 percent go unreported. …

Metcalf said that historically, censorship has been used to target marginalized groups.

“Censorship is a tool to ensure conformity: what people in power consider to be the right ideas, ” Metcalf said.

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