Book bans are getting everyone's attention — including Biden's. Here's why Everyone from the president of the United States to community organizers are paying attention to this obstinate trend.

Book bans are getting everyone's attention — including Biden's. Here's why

Gender Queer was one of the most banned and restricted titles in American libraries in 2022. Rick Bowmer/AP hide caption

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Rick Bowmer/AP

Gender Queer was one of the most banned and restricted titles in American libraries in 2022.

Rick Bowmer/AP

President Joe Biden named checked "MAGA extremists" and attempts to ban books in his video on Tuesday announcing he was officially running for office again. Here's why it's the topic that just won't stop.

What is it? Put frankly, it's a rising trend of parents and politicians pushing for censorship on material available to students in public schools and public libraries.

What's the big deal? It appears that public libraries are another battleground for the United State's ever-present culture wars.

  • Another 41% of titles challenged or banned have content relating to LGBTQIA+ identity and themes, according to PEN.   
  • This dynamic has existed for decades. Famed novelist Judy Blume faced heavy scrutiny and calls for censorship in the 1980s for her books that discussed sexuality and self-image.  
  • The number one banned book is once again Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe, a graphic memoir that follows Kobabe's journey into exploring their own gender and queer identity.  

Want to hear more on book bans? Listen to Consider This on how some communities are fighting back.


What are people saying?

In his re-election video released on Tuesday, Joe Biden cited book as part of the "bedrock freedoms" under threat by "MAGA extremists":

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Here's what he said at a White House event honoring educators earlier this week:

I never thought I'd be a president who is fighting against elected officials trying to ban, and banning, books. 

Lessa Kananiʻopua Pelayo-Lozada, president of the American Library Association, on how the campaign for books being banned has ramped up in past years:

Now we're seeing organized attempts by groups to censor multiple titles throughout the country without actually having read many of these books. 

Elle Mehltretter, a 16-year-old who spoke with NPR's Tovia Smith about circumventing book bans online in her home state of Florida:

You can say you ban books all you want, but you can never really ban them because they're everywhere. 

So, what now?

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