This year, Banned Books Week felt like less of a celebration and more of a moral imperative, and our mandate at Penguin Random House to protect writers against censorship is more important than ever. As the book-banning epidemic continues to spread across the country, we remain committed to championing the open exchange of ideas and the power of narrative to broaden perspective and strengthen human empathy.
Why is this year different?
- According to the American Library Association, reported book challenges in 2022 represent the highest number of attempted book bans in twenty years.
- A recent report by PEN America on the rise in book bans found that of the 1,145 unique books challenged over a nine-month period, 41 percent contain protagonists or prominent secondary characters of color and 22 percent directly address issues of race and racism; 33 percent explicitly address LGBTQ+ themes, or have protagonists or prominent secondary characters who are LGBTQ+.
- This year, proposed educational gag orders have increased 250 percent compared to 2021.
- Thirty-six different states have introduced 137 gag order bills in 2022.
For Banned Books Week 2022, Penguin Random House hosted multiple events including a Banned Books panel at The Atlantic Festival, a Booklist event, exclusive seminars for our employees, and more. We’re excited to share these events with you here:
- The Atlantic Festival Banned Books Panel featuring Namrata Tripathi, SVP and Publisher, Kokila, and PRH authors Ibram X. Kendi and Nic Stone
- As attempts to ban books increase throughout the United States, the authors Ibram X. Kendi, Nic Stone, and George Packer discuss censorship and freedom of expression with The Atlantic.
- Beyond Banned Books: Current Civil and Legal Actions Around Censorship of Select Content and Topics
- The American Library Association and the Freedom to Read (FTR) Foundation discuss the current climate of book bans and challenges that have grown to censorship of select content and topics—particularly focused on LGBTIA+ and BIPOC-related content.
- Get Ready, Stay Ready: What You Can Do to Support Freedom of Expression
- This panel gives concrete tips, activities, and resources for joining the fight against book bans and challenges on a local level within your community.
- Breaking Bans: A Celebration of Challenged Books
- This special Banned Books Week event, brings together authors Nikole Hannah-Jones (The 1619 Project), Renée Watson (The 1619 Project: Born on the Water), Kim Johnson (This Is My America), and Kyle Lukoff (Different Kind of Fruit and Too Bright to See), who have all experienced firsthand having their work censored. They share stories of how librarians and communities fought back and their personal experiences with bans, as well as how their books have impacted individual readers at schools and libraries across the country.
- For Families: Brightly Banned and Challenged Books playlist
- This playlist offers read-alouds for just a fraction of the number of picture books that have been banned or challenged.
To underscore our commitment to this issue, in partnership with American Booksellers for Freedom of Expression, Penguin Random House donated $1 for every book purchased on penguinrandomhouse.com during Banned Books Week (9/18 to 9/24/22), in addition to our ongoing financial support for organizations including National Coalition Against Censorship, PEN America, and PEN International Publishers Circle.
Earlier this year, we also launched a Banned Books Resource Hub featuring tools, materials, and organizations for our valued partners, including educators, librarians, parents, students, authors, and illustrators. Please feel free to share this hub with your networks.
Penguin Random House will remain steadfast in our defense of the freedom to read and in our commitment to combat censorship. Let’s stand together in support of free expression.