Books are being pulled from the shelves of school libraries across the country. According to the American Library Association, 1597 books were challenged or removed from libraries, schools, and universities in 2021, marking the highest number of attempted book bans since the ALA began tracking such data two decades ago. In response to the trend, the Brooklyn Public Library is opening its digital collections to teens outside New York City.
The BPL's Books Unbanned initiative aims to help young people "read what they like, discover themselves, and form their own opinions." Readers ages 13 through 21 can now apply for a free eCard from the system by emailing BooksUnbanned@bklynlibrary.org. Digital library cards from the BPL are always free to teenagers residing in New York, but they will be open to teens outside the state for only a limited time.
Cardholders are free to take advantage of the more than 400,000 ebooks, magazines, and audiobooks in the library's system, which includes many frequently banned titles. As part of the Books Unbanned initiative, the BPL is offering curated reading recommendations to teens who fill out a BookMatch request form online. An eCard grants members access to the library's online resources as well, such as JSTOR and Ancestry.com.
Though it's become a hot topic, book banning is nothing new. Many of the most popular titles of all time, such as The Lorax, Animal Farm, and The Catcher in the Rye, have been targeted by censors. Here are some of the most banned books of all time to spice up your reading list.