June 2022. EveryLibrary, the 501C4 political action committee dedicated to building voter support for libraries, has announced the launch of their Banned Book Store at bannedbookstore.co. The Banned Book Store is the most comprehensive store of currently banned and challenged books in the United States.
Proceeds from the book store go to support the work of EveryLibrary. Every $1 raised helps secure over $1,600 in stable library funding.
Which Books Are For Sale?
The books available in the store are those that have been targeted for banning or censorship attempts and are in-print and available through Ingram's online Aerio platform. The book selection comes from a wide range of sources including PEN America's comprehensive list, Dr. Tasslyn Magnusson's spreadsheet of book bans and challenges, various smaller lists provided by the American Library Association, and other historically banned or challenged book lists.
According to a report by PEN America, book bans have targeted 1,145 unique book titles by 874 different authors, 198 illustrators, and 9 translators, impacting the literary, scholarly, and creative work of 1,081 people altogether.
Among titles in PEN's index:
- 467 titles (41%) included protagonists or prominent secondary characters who were people of color;
- 247 titles (22%) directly address issues of race and racism
- 379 titles (33%) explicitly address LGBTQ+ themes, or have protagonists or prominent secondary characters who are LGBTQ+
- 184 titles (16%) are history books or biographies. 107 have explicit or prominent themes related to rights and activism (9%).
- 42 children's books were censored, including biographies of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Ruby Bridges, Duke Ellington, Katherine Johnson, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Cesar Chavez, Sonia Sotomayor, Nelson Mandela, and Malala Yousafzai.
Who Is Banning the Books?
Many of recent book challenges come from individuals who have never read the books and who have been encouraged by national extremist organizations that present excerpts out of context.
"There are a variety of censorship measures in several US states that could keep the public from reading certain books," said John Chrastka, Executive Director of Every Library. "These books are being banned by government organizations in libraries across the country simply because a handful of extremists disagree with the content of the books. Some of these measures could also lead to the arrest of librarians as a result of their commitment to free speech and access to library materials. Some provide monetized incentives to ban books."
Why EveryLibrary Has Created a Book Store of Banned Books
Exposure to a wide range of developmentally appropriate reading materials benefits the health, livelihood, and well-being of children. Books help develop empathy for others, and help children imagine lives and experiences that are new to them or different than their own. A 2014 study found that children became more empathetic toward LGBTQ+ folks, immigrants, and refugees after reading Harry Potter, a story of a child who is different from his peers.
As we continue to see attacks on the freedom to read across the country, EveryLibrary is working with dozens of local activists and organizations to give them the resources they need to fight back. Readers can find out more about them here. Funds raised will help EveryLibrary fight against book banning and help libraries secure the funding they need to serve their communities.
EveryLibrary is a 501c4 political action committee dedicated to building voter support for libraries. Since 2012, EveryLibrary has provided donor-supported pro-bono advising and consulting to 63 library campaigns helping to win over $220 million in stable tax funding. Beginning in 2016, EveryLibrary has provided strategic and tactical support to school library communities on education and tax policy, along with supporting dozens of challenges to school library budgets and school librarian positions in schools and districts across the country.