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Banned Books

Learn what banned books are, the history of banned, burned and challenged books, view a, interactive Google map of the United States that shows where books are being challenged.

What is a Banned Book?

Banned BooksBooks have been banned as long as there have been books and continue to be banned or challenged even today. COM Library stands firmly behind freedom of speech and the American Library Association (ALA) code: “We uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources.” A banned book is a book that may be:

  • removed from a library or libraries;
  • not allowed to be published;
  • not allowed to enter an entire country;
  • not allowed to exist: to be physically destroyed, typically by burning, such as the notorious book burning in Nazi Germany.
  • The most extreme form of banning is the death or demand for the death of the author, as during the Inquisition, or more recently with Salman Rushdie.
  • A challenged book is one that someone has tried to ban, but did not succeed.

Why Are Books Sometimes Banned?

The reason to ban books generally boils down to ideas that are perceived as dangerous in some way to an individual, group, or government that does not want other people to have access to that idea, whether the idea is about God, government or society.

Issues to Consider

  • What happens when people are denied access to books and the ideas contained in them?
  • What happens when an author’s right to freedom of speech (in this country) is denied?
  • Is it a coincidence that some of the greatest books ever written are also some of the most banned or challenged books?

Banned or Challenged Books in the US

To see books banned and challenged recently, click on the blue markers to get details on the book banned in a pop up, or view a larger version of the map.