Children’s Books Featuring Diverse Characters Are More Likely to Be Banned

PEN American Center “From the Missing Shelf” depicts a startling trend in banned books

Every year Banned Book Week falls on the last week of September. It’s an occasion to celebrate the freedom to read whatever our hearts desire despite censorship efforts from the easily offended.

PEN America is a hybrid organization that is deeply concerned with where literature and human rights meet. At the start of this year’s BBW they released a report that uncovers an alarming pattern in children’s literature. According to their research on commonly challenged or banned books, PEN America found that “books by or about people of color, people who identify as LGBT, and people with disabilities (“diverse books”) are significantly more likely to be challenged or banned even as they make up a disproportionately small fraction of all published literature.” The study comprehensively looked into how book bans have been reviewed in the news, diversity in publishing, and also featured interviews with authors and editors.

The most unfortunate consequence that PEN discovered from their analysis of banned books was that kids are not being exposed to a diverse range of characters in the stories that they read. Book lovers know just how important reading is in shaping one’s world and imagination. The report calls for action and change. We recommend giving it a read.


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