“It's not just the books under fire now that worry me. It is the books that will never be written.
The books that will never be read. And all due to the fear of censorship. As always, young readers will be the real losers”.
Censorship of books has very ancient roots, and it does not always take the form of book bonfires as happened during the Nazi era or in Fahrenheit 451. Controlling the circulation of culture and information has always been the most direct way to control public thought and opinion. It is a typical practice for dictatorships and totalitarian regimes, but it has its forms also in many democratic societies, if less obvious but just as harmful.
In these forms, censorship becomes harder to identify and oppose, because it is not perpetrated with rifles or institutional procedures. Rather, it is often the absence of a clear position by the institutions that facilitates the proliferation of censorship that can strike any work, at any moment. The reason most often flaunted for these actions is the protection of children.
Indeed, the books most often banned recently in democratic countries are children's books. From time to time, parents' associations, religious groups, and political groups feel entitled to ban literary works, often with unjustified violence, withdrawing them from schools and public libraries, thus acting in the name of all, while not having received any mandate from any majority.
These sedicious acts place the artistic freedom of authors at risk, ever more often inviting the authors to self-censor. But self-censorship and the repression of authorial creativity, driven by ideological intimidation, are not characteristics of democratic societies. From this is born the deep concern of those who work in publishing, especially those who help produce children's fiction books.
It should be remembered that a book is not the product of an individual author, who can unleash their own foolishness, but is the fruit of a long and careful team effort. The choice of the books to publish, and the consideration of the ages and the subjects takes place within the publishing house, whose purpose is certainly not to traumatize children, but to provide them the best literary experience possible.
In this section, we have collected information about books censored in Western countries. A sort of map to help watch the phenomenon and to share experiences on a global level.
A list of the most questioned books
A list of banned books in the world
Why banning books is just wrong
We should protect diversity in literature
A study by ALA about challenged and banned books and the reasons behind censorship.
The most challenged books in 2020.
The 10 most challenged books in 2020 in USA explore the values of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The most challenged books in USA between 2017 and 2019.
The most challenged books in USA in 2018
Harry Potter and censorship
When an author cannot meet her readers because of censors.
About the Banned Book week
What happened in Italy in 2015
The Mayor of Venice banned 49 picture books from public places. Why? They explore gender issues.
A criticism of the withdrawal of some titles by Dr Seuss and a reflection on the importance of preserving a historical legacy.
The Parthenon of Books
The Parthenon of Books is an art installation by Marta Minujìn, on the site of 1930s book burnings in the city of Kassel. It was intended as a symbol of free speech.