The recent introduction of state legislation targeting books available in public and school libraries has resurfaced the idea of banning books. Several states have pending legislation that would prohibit libraries from carrying certain books in their collection, or even prosecuting librarians who included materials determined to be offensive or obscene.
Conflicts over the content of books available in libraries, however, have been happening for decades. The Bible, The Merchant of Venice, Catch-22, and Harry Potter have all been the subject of litigation related to book challenges in school and public libraries. The American Library Association tracks the most frequently challenged book each year. In 2020, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison were among the top ten most challenged books.
The American Library Association began advocating for the freedom to read in the 1980s with the introduction of Banned Books Week, which is celebrated every year in libraries across the country. UConn Law Library’s Banned Books research guide provides information on frequently challenged books, major cases on challenged books, and pending legislation.