by Jay P. Greene, Max Eden, and Madison Marino
The advocacy organization PEN America is the primary source for claims that there is widespread book banning underway in American schools. But PEN America’s claims hinge on a definition of “ban” that most Americans would not recognize. In order to assess PEN America’s claims by the common definition of “banned,” i.e., made unavailable, we reviewed the 2021-2022 index of banned books against online school library card catalogs. We find that 74 percent of the books that PEN America lists as banned are listed as available in the same districts from which PEN America says those books were banned.