Recent News Stories about U.S. Book Bans: A Summary

January 2022 was a busy month for news about books being banned in various schools across the United States. Here are a few of the stories that caught national, or international attention, and what’s going on.

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Maus by Art Spiegelman Was Banned in a Tennessee School District


Maus, a graphic novel about the Holocaust based on the memories of the author and his father, was banned by McMinn County School Board on Jan. 10, for including eight curse words and a depiction of a nude woman (er, nude mouse). Read more here.

On Jan. 30, Politico reported:

Just days after the banning of “Maus” by a Tennessee school district made national news, two editions of Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize winning graphic novel about the Holocaust have reached the top 20 on and are in limited supply.

In response to the ban, Davidson College Professor Scott Denham has offered to teach a free class online to students in 8th through 12th grade who live in McMinn County and would like to study Maus with him. Read more here.

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A Texas School District Removed Dozens of Books from a School Library “for Review”

Granbury Independent School District has said it is “reviewing” a large selection of books currently found in school libraries, including carting dozens of them out of schools without allowing comment from the public before doing so.

Students in the district have pushed back. According to one junior:

“I’m simply going to say that no government—and public school is an extension of government—has ever banned books and banned information from its public and been remembered in history as the good guys.”


In late 2021, Republican State Representative Matt Krause listed 850 books he believes should be removed from Texas school libraries. You can find the list here.

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A Washington School District Removed To Kill a Mockingbird from Their Reading List – But Did Not Actually Ban It

Mukilteo School District in Washington state voted on Jan. 24 to remove Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird from their list of required reading for ninth graders. As this made national news, many readers reacted believing that the novel, frequently considered a modern classic, had been banned from the schools, but this is incorrect. The book is simply no longer required reading; individual teachers may still choose to assign it in their classrooms, or teachers may choose to assign books with similar themes. Objections to the book that led to its removal from the required reading list are that it includes a white savior and racial slurs, and it marginalizes the POC characters. Read more here.


18 thoughts on “Recent News Stories about U.S. Book Bans: A Summary

  1. TheBookGuardians says:

    As someone who grew up in South Africa in the post-Apartheid era, it always fascinates me to read and hear in the news about books being banned in schools in various parts of the USA. Especially, the types of books being banned and the reasons why they should be banned.


  2. kamifurr says:

    When people ban books, do they realize what kind of attention they draw to that book? The students start reading them out of curiosity.

    A nude mouse!? Are they serious?


    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      Yeah, it comes across as ridiculous most of the time. Profanity? Have they heard what teenagers SAY? What they’re watching on Netflix and Youtube?

      If I were seriously worried about the kind of content my child was being exposed to, I would monitor what they were doing online. The number of children exposed to pornography online when they’re like 8 or 10 is appalling, and yet I never see anyone talking about that. They’re apparently more worried about a teenager seeing a swear word in print.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Julie Anna's Books says:

    It’s so frustrating going through all these lists. it also really has been drawing interest in these books. In my role as a bookseller I’ve received back to back questions from customers asking about our banned book selection, especially Maus.


    • Krysta says:

      I’ve seen librarians online saying that their copies of Maus are all checked out. I was in my library the other day and saw Maus on the hold shelf, so there’s definitely interest being generated by this. Which is fortunate. I don’t know that all banned books get such attention.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Jean says:

    Appropriate is the word when it comes to children’s reading in the schools. Maybe kids do hear bad things on TV and the Internet, but what we put in schools should be both appropriate for the age and set the example unlike other mediums. The books I have seen taken down (banned?) were disgusting and did not belong in schools.


    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I think it depends, and there’s a really wide variety of what people think is “appropriate.” For instance, I wouldn’t really be appalled by Maus having 8 instances of profanity in it, for high school readers. I’ve never been much of one for using profanity myself and didn’t like when other people used it when I was a teen, but I read books full of it like Of Mice and Men when I was in middle school and wasn’t really bothered, nor inspired to start using the F word myself.


  5. Krysta says:

    The objections to Maus in the article are particularly concerning. The book was banned for the eight curse words and nude mouse, but the school board member quoted went beyond that and says the events of the book are too horrific, implying students shouldn’t be exposed to it. But that’s history. It happened. The article says the school board later clarified that they aren’t against teaching about the Holocaust, but…that comment sort of suggests that maybe some of them are.

    And, of course, what is age appropriate for students should be considered. There are books about the Holocaust that are written for younger readers and may be less graphic or feel more uplifting (like if they focus on resistance fighters, for instance). But at some point educators do need to transition into talking about what resistance fighters were resisting. It’s ugly and uncomfortable, but it is necessary.

    I think the school board is going to need to clarify here exactly what they are opposing. Is it truly about the eight curse words? Are they willing to keep teaching students about the Holocaust and about what happened? If so, what age appropriate book will they recommend as a replacement? I don’t see a real commitment to teaching history here, so far.


    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      Right. They’re not against teaching the Holocaust, just against teaching anything that makes it sound particularly bad. 🙄 And I do think it opens the question of whether the profanity was the real issue or they were using it as an excuse to ban it for some reason they didn’t want to put on the record.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Ella says:

    I didn’t know that you could actually ban books in the US. I think there are better ways to express concerns about how a topic is portrayed. If you don’t like a book on a certain topic, you can recommend other books or direct the discussion of the book in a different way.


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