The number of book bans continues to grow each year—and 2023 was no exception. PEN America reports that the 2022 – 2023 school year saw an increase of 33% in book banning from the previous year. Here are the Top Ten Banned Books of 2023:

1.   Flamer by Mike Curato
2.   Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe 
3.   Tricks by Ellen Hopkins
4.   The Handmaid’s Tale: The Graphic Novel by Margaret Atwood
5.   Crank by Ellen Hopkins
6.   A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
7.   Sold by Patricia McCormick
8.   Push by Sapphire
9.   This Book Is Gay by Juno Dawson
10.  Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

(This list is based off of Reader's Digest's top 50 most banned books of 2023 roundup, using data compiled by PEN America.)

Illustration of a forbidden signal with a book

Throughout the 2022 – 2023 school year, book bans occurred in 33 states, with Florida leading the pack, according to PEN America.

Unfortunately, many of the authors on 2023's top 10 list are no strangers to book challenges. In 2022, Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe was #1 on the list of top banned books. In 2023, two of Ellen Hopkins' books made it to the top 10 list—and in 2022, the author's book Crank appeared on the list

Why these books?

As we've previously covered, the increase in book challenges and efforts to ban books disproportionality affect material that focuses on sexual orientation, sexual identify, race, and racism.

In 2022, for example, a Virginia state judge found the state's obscenity law unconstitutional and dismissed petitions seeking to have Gender Queer and A Court of Mist and Fury found obscene. Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz PC represented Bloomsbury Publishing and Ms. Maas in the proceeding

Top view on colorful stacked books. Education and learning concept background 3D Rendering, 3D Illustration

What's in Store for 2024?

If the past few years are any indication, the number of book bans will only continue to rise. 

But we've seen a few glimmers of hope in efforts to stop book bans. At the end of December, a federal judge in Iowa granted a preliminary injunction, temporarily blocking the enforcement of an Iowa law that bans books describing sex acts from public schools. The judge held that "the Legislature has imposed a puritanical ‘pall of orthodoxy’ over school libraries.” On January 1, Illinois became the first state to prohibit book banning, based on law that just went into effect.

And, last week, a Florida federal judge held that plaintiffs in a case challenging book bans in the state, including PEN America, Penguin Random House, banned authors, and parents, have standing to pursue their claims against the school board under the First Amendment.

Despite this, it's clear many states will continue to restrict access to books through legislation. In 2024, we'll likely see even more lawsuits challenging laws like Iowa's and Florida's.