With book bans and educational gag orders surging nationwide, picture books for young readers are also being caught up in the mix.
In a release this week, PEN America noted 317 of the 1,648 banned titles the organization tracked during the 2021-2022 school year were picture books, with 19 of them banned more than once. And much like the books for older readers being targeted by book banners, most of the picture books on the list involve issues of race or the LGBTQ community.
PEN's list of the most banned picture books was drawn from PEN America's Index of School Book Bans (a spreadsheet used to document bans from July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022). In a report issued last fall, Banned in the USA: The Growing Movement to Censor Books in Schools, PEN America tracked 2,532 book bans across 32 states during the 2021-22 school year. The PEN America list of 19 picture books banned two or more times include:
Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag by Rob Sanders, illustrated by Steve Salerno.
I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, illustrrated by Shelagh McNicholas.
And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, illustrrated by Henry Cole.
In Our Mothers’ House by Patricia Polacco.
The Baby Tree by Sophie Blackall.
Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh.
Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers, illustrated by Marla Frazee.
Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian, illustrated by Mike Curato.
When Aidan Became a Brother by Kyle Lukoff, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita.
We March by Shane W. Evans.
We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Frané Lessac.
They, She, He Easy as ABC by Maya Christina Gonzalez, illustrated by Matthew Sg.
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi.
The Family Book by Todd Parr.
Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o, illustrated by Vashti Harrison.
Stella Brings the Family by Miriam B. Schiffer, illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown.
Sparkle Boy by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Maria Mola.
Sing a Song: How Lift Every Voice and Sing Inspired Generations by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Keith Mallett.
Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe.