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If it feels like more and more books are being banned in schools, it could be because challenges to books in schools and libraries are on the rise.
In a unanimous vote this month, a school board in Tennessee banned “Maus,” a graphic memoir about the Holocaust that won a 1992 Pulitzer Prize, from the eighth-grade language arts curriculum.
The board cited foul language, copyright issues and nudity of the drawn characters in the book, which is based on real-life interviews the author conducted with family members, among its reasons for the decision to pull the book from shelves.
This week, a Missouri school district voted to pull Toni Morrison's debut novel "The Bluest Eye" from shelves.
Students, parents, authors and book groups have been outraged by the recent uptick in banning of books — especially of those that discuss race and sexuality. The American Library Association told NBC BLK in a statement that its Office for Intellectual Freedom reported 273 books were affected by censorship attempts in 2020. In December, over 600 authors, publishers and groups joined together to condemn the banning of books in public school libraries.
If you’re outraged, too, there’s something you can do: Buy banned books.
Here are some you can add to your collection (and support authors in the process).
Two weeks ago, a school board met in Tennessee and unanimously decided to ban “Maus,” the graphic novel from the eighth grade curriculum. In the novel, which tells a story set in the Holocaust, victims of the genocide are drawn as mice while the Nazis are cats.
In November, the Deseret News reported that copies of the book, along with eight others, were removed from libraries in Utah. Published in 1970, the story of a Black girl encountering racism in the wake of the Great Depression is the Nobel Prize winner’s first novel.
In October, a Texas school district returned “New Kid,” the Newbery Award-winning graphic novel by Jerry Craft, to shelves after copies of the book had been removed.
Books by Black authors have come under particular fire as of late. Jackson told NBC News that hearing her book, which tells the story of missing girls of color, was banned in Loudoun County, Virginia, has been “hurtful” and called the outrage over sexual situations depicted in the book “a game of telephone.”
In September 2021, Fairfax County Public Schools, Virginia’s largest school district, pulled “Gender Queer” and another book, “Lawn Boy” by Jonathan Evison, from school shelves. The award-winning memoir tells Kobabe’s story of coming out as nonbinary. “There are people for whom this is vital and for whom this could maybe even be lifesaving,” Maia Kobabe told NBC News Now.
In November 2021, a school board member in Flagler County, Florida, filed a criminal report with local authorities over copies of “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” a young-adult memoir about being Black and queer, that she found in school libraries in her district.
In September, two parents in Plainedge, New York, challenged a school read-aloud of Yang’s children’s novel, about an immigrant Chinese girl working the front desk of a motel. Yang addressed the book’s inclusion on lists of material that’s pushing “radical and racist ideologies” on Instagram, writing, “Please everyone, know that if it can happen to FRONT DESK, it can happen to ANY book. We are ALL vulnerable!”
The 2005 story of two male Emperor penguins, Roy and Silo, who get together to raise a chick, is based on a real-life same-sex bird coupling at New York City’s Central Park Zoo. It has also been No. 1 on the American Library Association’s 10 Most Challenged Books List for several years.
At age 6, Bridges was the first Black child to desegregate an all-white New Orleans elementary school. The iconic civil rights activist’s 2020 book, a letter to readers, appeared on a list of around 850 books produced by Republican Texas Rep. Matt Krause. In a letter, he asked Texas school districts to report whether they had bought any of the books on the list and any others that might cause “guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex or convey that a student, by virtue of their race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.”
The list also included “The Confessions of Nat Turner” by William Styron, “Eyes on Target: Inside Stories from the Brotherhood of the U.S. Navy SEALs” by Scott McEwen and Richard Miniter and “It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, Gender, and Sexual Health,” by Robie H. Harris.