The ALA’s Most Challenged Books list, released annually in conjunction with National Library Week, tracks attempts to ban or restrict access to books in libraries across the United States.

“In 2020, the American Library Association reports that more than 273 books were challenged or banned,” explains Andrew AlbanesePublishers Weekly senior writer. “That number is actually down quite a bit from 2019—but for an obvious reason: many libraries and schools were closed or moved online for much of the year because of the pandemic.”

According to ALA, demands to remove books largely focused on areas that became hot politically over the last year. Titles addressing racism and racial justice and those that shared the stories of people of color particularly grew in number, Albanese tells CCC. Books addressing themes and issues of concern for LGBTQIA+ people also continued to dominate the list.

“This list should be a reminder of what cancel culture really looks like—it’s school boards and parents and parent groups demanding that libraries pull books off the shelf because those books offend them,” Albanese says. “And it happens every day in our communities.”

Author: Christopher Kenneally

Christopher Kenneally hosts CCC's Velocity of Content podcast series, which debuted in 2006 and is the longest continuously running podcast covering the publishing industry. As CCC's Senior Director, Marketing, he is responsible for organizing and hosting programs that address the business needs of all stakeholders in publishing and research. His reporting has appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, The Independent (London), WBUR-FM, NPR, and WGBH-TV.
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