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Books: challenged, banned, and burned

Researching and tracing trends and events

The Supreme Court ruled in 1982:

(L)ocal school boards may not remove books from school library shelves simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books and seek by their removal to ‘prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion.’

Island Trees School District v. Pico, 457 U.S. 853 (1982)

What is your child reading in school? [Senate Hearing 2003]

On the primary and secondary level, there appears to be an ever increasing tendency to scrub textbooks, State assessments and even State standards of anything that may have the remotest chance of offense. The result is a homogenized curriculum that robs children of a balanced and accurate depiction of both history and the world around them.



Book banning

removal of materials based upon the objections of a person or group

Book burning

deliberate destruction by fire of books or other written materials, usually carried out in a public context. The burning of books represents an element of censorship and usually proceeds from a cultural, religious, or political opposition to the materials in question

Book challenge

an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others.


a change in the access status of material, based on the content of the work and made by a governing authority or its representatives. Such changes include exclusion, restriction, removal, or age/grade level changes.

Intellectual freedom 

the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause or movement may be explored.

Legal definitions