As we reported last month, the 2022 – 2023 school year saw an increase of 33% in book banning from the previous year. Florida, in particular, leads the country in the number of book bans--and has even banned some dictionaries (why? because they include words like “sex”). 

While the types of books and number of books getting banned continues to grow, there are some positive developments so far this year in efforts to halt book banning. Here are some of the latest updates in the nation's growing movement to ban books:

1. 1,600 Books are Currently Banned in One Florida County

As of January 2024, 1,600 books were banned in Escambia County, Florida. This massive list includes everything from Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl to Bill O’Reilly’s books, Killing Jesus and Killing Reagan, as well as dictionaries and eight different encyclopedias. PEN America and the Florida Freedom to Read Project cover this county's bans--and you can view the full list here.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently put out a statement to “debunk the false narrative that the state of Florida bans books." In the statement, Gov. DeSantis said he plans to “take the appropriate action to prohibit bad actors in school leadership positions from intentionally depriving students of an education by politicizing the book review process.” Over the coming months, we'll see if there is any decrease in the number of book bans in Florida.

2. Some States Are Trying to Ban Book Banning

On January 1, Illinois became the first state to prohibit book banning. Oregon is also trying to join the fight. A state senator proposed a bill that would prevent school boards from banning textbooks or library books just because they include content related to race, LGBTQ+ identities, religion, or people with disabilities or who are members of anther protected class.

3. Authors are Fighting the Bans

Last week, three authors--Khaled Hosseini, Maia Kobabe, and Molly Knox Ostertag--joined PEN America in a protesting a recent ban of more than 50 books in the Rockingham, Virginia, County public schools. PEN and the authors urged the district to return the books to the shelves. This echoes efforts by authors who challenged a Florida school district's ban on their books--which disproportionately dealt with issues involving race, gender or sexuality.

Read about the Top Banned Books of 2023 here.