By the Numbers: Banned Books Week 2023

October 1, 2023

Banned Books Week 2023: Let Freedom Read featuring Books Unbanned program

Banned Books Week takes place Oct. 17

Number of book challenges documented in 2022 by the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF). This is nearly double the number reported in 2021 and the highest number of book ban attempts since OIF started compiling this data more than 20 years ago. The 2022 challenges included 2,571 books.

Number of documented challenges to Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe, a novel covering LGBTQ+ themes. According to OIF data, it was the most frequently challenged book in 2022 over claims that it’s sexually explicit.

Number of books checked out through Brooklyn (N.Y.) Public Library’s (BPL) Books Unbanned initiative as of April 2023. Since it launched in April 2022 to address nationwide book bans, the award-winning program has provided more than 6,000 young people, ages 13–21, with a BPL card to access its digital collection. Seattle Public Library also joined the initiative in May.

Percentage of school library workers in an April EdWeek Research Center survey who said that, because of rising rates of book ban controversies, they are less likely to choose titles that could be deemed controversial. The survey was conducted with more than 1,700 librarians, directors, and assistants who work in K–12 schools and districts across the US.

Percentage of challenges in 2022 that occurred in public libraries, according to OIF data. Forty-one percent happened in school libraries.

Year that the first law in the US “banning” book bans, goes into effect. In June, Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker signed House Bill 2789 into law that penalizes libraries that restrict or ban materials based on “partisan or doctrinal disapproval,” making them ineligible for state funding. Similar laws have been proposed in California and New Jersey.


A cartoon depiction of a librarian holding a stack of books with a group of protestors behind her.

How We Fight Back

Library workers and advocates are turning to new policies, lawsuits, and legislation to stem the tide of book bans

Mark Oshiro (left) and Robin Gow speak at the “Beyond the Middle School Rainbow: Intersectionality in LGBTQIA+ Middle Grade Books” session on June 25 at ALA's Annual Conference and Exhibition in Chicago.

‘The Kids Get It’

Queer middle-grade authors talk setbacks and successes in writing diverse stories