Banned Books Week

by Danielle Coty-Fattal on September 21, 2022

Each year, the American Library Association’s (ALA) Banned Books Week gives us an opportunity to reflect on censorship and discrimination in the United States and our education system. Notably, as the ALA reports, books that are written by or are about Black and LGBTQ+ persons and communities make up the majority of challenged books.

Censorship is scary, especially when it targets literature that has the potential to educate and represent. With the increasing surge of backlash against certain titles and their availability in public and educational spaces, a reflection on the problems that underlie these issues is essential.

In recognition of this year’s Banned Books Week theme, “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us,” we have put together a list of some of our relevant titles that explore exclusion in the U.S. These books offer incredible insight and in-depth analysis, bringing forth various nuanced problems that are no doubt related to, or that lead to, widespread book banning efforts throughout the country.


Book Cover of Cross PurposesCross Purposes, Paula Abrams

Do parents have the right to determine how their children should be educated?






Book Cover of School ChoiceSchool Choice and the Future of Democracy, Scott Franklin Abernathy

Shows how school choice breaks open the boundaries of a once-closed system, allowing the parents who are most involved in their children’s education to leave the public schools for private or charter institutions. Poor schools are most hurt by this drain of civic engagement. When we privatize the customer relationship in education, we risk privatizing the very foundations of our citizenship.



Book Cover of Common GroundCommon Ground, Contested Territory, Mark A. Clarke; Foreword by Diane Larsen-Freeman

  • Who is in charge of lesson plans and of organizing classroom activities?
  • Who places students in classes?
  • Who selects the books and the tests?
  • How are students evaluated, and who determines this?
  • What weight does teacher opinion have in decisions about student progress in school?

Teachers should have the final say in all of these cases, and their opinion should weigh heavily in all of them, yet this is not the reality for today’s teachers. Current educational practices driven by a confluence of social and political issues, including testing policies, seem to be influencing teaching and learning more than teachers themselves.

Book Cover of The Enduring LegacyThe Enduring Legacy, Mark Ryan

Structured inequality in the nation’s schools is deeply connected to social stratification within American society. This book describes a multifaceted paradox—a constant struggle between those who espouse a message of hope and inclusion and others who systematically plan for exclusion.




Book Cover of Destined to Fail“Destined to Fail”, Julia Eklund Koza

Identifies resemblances and connections between past and present that illustrate the continuing influence of eugenics—and the systems of reasoning that made early-twentieth-century eugenics imaginable and seem reasonable—on education discourse and practice today.




Book Cover of LGBT YouthLGBT Youth in America’s Public Schools, Jason Cianciotto and Sean Cahill

An accessible review of social science research with analyses of school practices and local, state, and federal laws that affect LGBT students. This is an essential guide for teachers, school administrators, guidance counselors, and social workers interacting with students on a daily basis; school board members and officials determining school policy; nonprofit advocates and providers of social services to youth; and academic scholars, graduate students, and researchers training the next generation of school administrators and informing future policy and practice.


Policy & Human Rights

Book Cover of Transgender Rights and PoliticsTransgender Rights and Politics, Jami K. Taylor and Donald P. Haider-Markel, Editors

New research employing the concepts and tools of political science to explore the politics of transgender rights. Volume contributors discuss transgender interest groups, the inclusion of transgender activists in advocacy coalitions, policy diffusion at the state and local levels, and, importantly, the implementation of transgender public policy.



Book Cover of the Remarkable Rise of Transgender RightsThe Remarkable Rise of Transgender Rights, Jami K. Taylor, Daniel C. Lewis, and Donald P. Haider-Markel

Explains the growth of the transgender rights movement despite its marginalized status within the current political opportunity structure.





Book Cover of For Dear LifeFor Dear Life, Carol Jacobsen

Chronicles feminist and artist Carol Jacobsen’s deep commitment to the causes of justice and human rights, and focuses a critical lens on an American criminal-legal regime that imparts racist, gendered, and classist modes of punishment to women lawbreakers.


During September, use the discount code FLASH22 to get this award-winning book for only $15.

Book Cover of Elite-Led Mobilization

Elite-Led Mobilization and Gay Rights, Benjamin George Bishin, Thomas J. Hayes, Matthew B. Incantalupo, and Charles Anthony Smith

Argues that what appears to be public opinion backlash against gay rights is more consistent with elite-led mobilization—a strategy used by anti-gay elites, primarily white evangelicals, seeking to prevent the full incorporation of LGBT Americans in the polity in order to achieve political objectives and increase political power. This book defines and tests the theory of Mass Opinion Backlash and develops and tests the theory of Elite-Led Mobilization by employing a series of online and natural experiments, surrounding the U.S. Supreme Court rulings in Obergefell v. Hodges and United States v. Windsor, and President Obama’s position change on gay marriage.

Book Cover of Democracy's MeaningsDemocracy’s Meanings, Nicholas T. Davis, Keith Gåddie, and Kirby Goidel

Argues that Americans think about democracy in ways that go beyond voting or elected representation. Instead, citizens have rich and substantive views about the material conditions that democracy should produce, which draw from their beliefs about equality, fairness, and justice.

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