Book Challenges

A book challenge is the removal or restriction of books deemed controversial or objectionable. Fighting against it involves education, advocacy, and community engagement to promote intellectual freedom and defend the right to access information and ideas without censorship.

Book Challenges Overview

A book challenge refers to an attempt made by an individual or a group to remove or restrict access to a book in a library, school, or community. It is a form of censorship where someone questions the suitability or content of a particular book and requests its removal from public circulation or inclusion in educational curricula.
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How Do Book Challenges Infringe Upon Our Intellectual Freedom?

Freedom of Expression

Book bans directly infringe upon the freedom of expression, a fundamental human right. They limit our ability to share a range of ideas, perspectives, and creativity with others. Banning books restricts the diversity of voices and hampers the freedom of information, hindering intellectual growth and understanding.

Censorship and Control

Book bans are a form of censorship, allowing certain individuals or groups to exert control over what others can read or learn. Censorship limits the opportunity for individuals to form their own opinions, make informed decisions, and engage in open dialogue. It perpetuates a narrow worldview and can stifle innovation and progress.

Intellectual Freedom

Children silhouette on top of upright books. Traced from my hand drawn sketch with high resolution jpg. More Education Series Lightbox

Book bans undermine intellectual freedom, which is crucial for fostering critical thinking, expanding knowledge, and encouraging the exploration of different viewpoints. The ability to access a wide range of ideas, even those that may be challenging or controversial, is vital for personal development, promoting tolerance, and advancing society.


In a democratic society, the exchange of ideas and the freedom to access a wide range of information are crucial for informed decision-making and critical thinking. Book challenges stifle this process by attempting to control and limit the narratives that are available to the public. By censoring books, we risk creating echo chambers and stifling dissent, hindering the development of a well-informed and engaged citizenry.

What Can You Do

We all have a role to play in protecting intellectual freedom. Here are some ways you can get involved in the fight against book bans.

Library Staff & Board Members

Learn more about how library staff and library board members can join us in defending intellectual freedom in your library.

Community Members

Are you a community member and a library advocate? You can also join us in defending intellectual freedom in your community!

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Unite Against Book Bans

Learn more about the fight against book challenges nationally by clicking on the link below.

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How To Fight Book Bans: A Tip Sheet For Students

Learn how to fight against book challenges as a student by clicking the link below to PEN America’s resource.

Contact Us

Free For All: New Yorkers for Intellectual Freedom is dedicated to ensuring library workers and librarians are supported and prepared for any intellectual freedom challenges they may experience.

We want to hear from you! Please use the form to contact us and someone from the FFANY team will get back to you.

*These numbers are from the American Library Association in their 2023 National Report