As book-banning efforts have been increasing over the last few years, we decided to take a closer look into the reasons behind proposed bans and how they’ve changed over the past 30 years.
This report is mainly based on the ALA’s reports on book bans in the USA, starting from 1990. We have used this database to create in-depth insights into the reasons behind book bans during this period, their frequency, and their evolution over three decades behind us.
*Note: This database contains 16,297 recorded reasons for ban books in the US from 1990 to 2019. For the 1990-2009 period, the database contains all banned and challenged titles, while for the 2010-2019 period, it includes the 100 most frequently banned & challenged books of the decade.
- From 2010 to 2019, the most common reasons behind challenges to ban books were offensive language and sexually explicit content, accounting for 34.75% of all ban proposals during this period.
- 13.12% of titles over the past decade were challenged because they were unsuited for the intended age group.
- Over 10.64% of ban proposals involve content depicting violence and abusive behavior, and this topic has been increasingly present in banning efforts since the 90s.
- Books dealing with LGBTQIA+ issues account for 9.22% of all book-banning efforts since 2010, making this topic the fastest-growing when it comes to banning.
- These five reasons account for over 67% of all proposed book bans over the past decade.
- Other challenges involve books discussing religious viewpoints, drugs, alcohol, smoking consumption, nudity, racism, and others.
|Reason for banning||Frequency from 2010 to 2019||Change since 2000-2009|
|Unsuited for Age Group||13.12%||6%|
- In terms of change from the previous decade, efforts to ban books dealing with homosexuality and LGBTQIA+ issues have increased the most, as their share in overall banning efforts has risen by 104% over the past decade.
- Violence is 37% more present as a reason for book-banning in the US from 2010 to 2019, while books that deal with various religious viewpoints are 65% more present on the banning list.
- Books considered racist and promoting racist viewpoints have been 34% more frequently on the ban list over the past decade.
- On the other hand, books claimed to contain sexually explicit content are less frequently present on the list, a 12% drop compared to the first decade of the 21st century.
Reasons for book banning from 2000 to 2009
Between 2000 and 2009, around 7,971 reasons were stated in order to initiate book bans in the US from 5,403 challenges initiated during this period.
- The most objections were pointing out sexually explicit content in the books, 19.78% of all challenges.
- Books containing offensive language accounted for 16.20% of all proposed challenges, making it the second most frequent reason for book bans.
- Violent content was stated as the reason for banning 7.77% of titles in the 00s.
- Books allegedly containing homosexual content accounted for 4.53% of all challenges during this period.
- 3.65% of challenged books contained religious viewpoints, a 25% drop compared to the 90s, and an additional 3.44% of titles were challenged due to occult/satanic motives.
|Reason for banning||Count||Frequency from 2000 to 2009||Change since the 90s|
|Unsuited for Age Group||989||12.41%||-12%|
|Other Offensive Item||9||0.11%||363%|
Reasons for book banning in the 90s
6,289 banning challenges were initiated from 1990 to 1999 in the US, with over 8,207 stated reasons for removing selected titles.
- 17.45% of the reasons for book bans during the 90s were due to alleged sexually explicit content in the books.
- 15.34% of challenged titles contained offensive language, making it the second most frequent reason for book banning over this period.
- 14.16% of the reasons for bans were focused on content that was allegedly unsuited for the intended age group.
- Occult and satanic content was claimed to be a reason for 9.38% of all challenges.
- Violent content was allegedly present in 7.62% of proposed bans.
|Reason for banning||Count||Frequency in the 90s|
|Unsuited for Age Group||1162||14.16%|
|Other Offensive Item||2||0.02%|