Rio Americano High School

The Mirada

Rio Americano High School

The Mirada

Rio Americano High School

The Mirada

Book Banning Hit Record Levels Across the U.S. Last Year, Report Says

A new report shows book banning at an all-time high in red and blue states
Photo By PEN America

Banning books in schools and libraries is not slowing down, according to a new report by PEN America.

The free-speech organization said in its report released last week, “Banned in the USA: Narrating the Crisis,” that 4,300 books were banned from schools in 23 states from July to December last year. That’s more than for the entire 2022-2023 school year.

The report documents bans in red and blue states, but book challenges are rare in California, and Rio has not seen any books banned from shelves or curriculums. However, teachers are concerned about what they see as the harm that bans cause.

Teacher librarian Laura Fierro believes that the increase in book banning diminishes students’ ability to learn about the world.

“Any time students are not reading, I think their opportunity to learn is damaged,” Fierro said. “It doesn’t matter what book they’re reading. If they’re not reading, they’re not learning.”

Photo By PEN America

Book challenges have been fueled by groups like Moms for Liberty, which approach school districts and boards with complaints about books seen as “obscene” or inappropriate for children, which often discuss topics like gender and race.

Fierro said that one parent’s opinion does not dictate what goes into the library.

“To me, if one parent doesn’t want their kid to read a book, that’s fine,” Fierro said. “I’ll respect that. I don’t think that it’s fair for that one parent to say what other students can read.”

Sabrina Baêta, Freedom to Read program manager at PEN America and a lead author of the report, said she was concerned that bans often target books about identity and important social issues.

“For anyone who cares about the bedrock of American values and the protection of free expression, this report should be a red alert,” said Sabrina Baêta. “Book bans are targeting narratives about race and sexual identities and sexual content writ large, and they show no sign of stopping. The bans we’re seeing are broad, harsh, and pernicious–and they’re undermining the education of millions of students across the country.”

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Stella Plain, Staff Writer
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  • MatteoMay 6, 2024 at 9:10 PM

    Good op-ed. It would be nice if you had mentioned the alarming lack of books in our own library at Rio.