A report by the Daily Signal that investigated left-wing claims of “book bans” by school districts found that 74% of books that are supposedly “banned” are actually in catalogues or are in use by students and teachers.
The report, by Jay Greene, took up PEN America’s claim that there had been 2,532 books banned from public schools in the 2021-22 academic year. The Daily Signal found that PEN America’s claims could not be verified: “[W]e examined online card catalogues and found that 74 percent of the books PEN America identified as banned from school libraries are actually listed as available in the catalogues of those school districts. In many cases we could see that copies of those books are currently checked out and in use by students.”
The Daily Signal found that books specifically said to be banned for racial reasons were not, in fact, banned:
The book The Hate U Give, which was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and primarily features black characters, is listed as one of the most frequently banned books, reportedly removed from more than a dozen public school libraries during 2021-2022.
But when we examine the online card catalogues in those school districts, we find copies of The Hate U Give available in every one of them.
Greene added that even though 26% of the listed books were not found, that did not mean they had been removed: ” Given how sloppy and error-prone the PEN America report is, it’s unclear whether the books we were unable to find in school district card catalogues had ever been listed and then removed.”
As many critics have pointed out, the left often conflates curriculum design — which includes deciding which materials are appropriate for children — with censorship, which concerns books that are available in public libraries for the general population to read.
“Book bans” and censorship have become regular features of life on left-wing college campuses, in Hollywood, and in Silicon Valley, where conservatives are often “canceled.”