The Forbidden Pages: A Data Analysis of Book Bans in the US

In the last few years, an increasing number of books have been banned in states across the United States — with projections of the trend accelerating in 2023. Recent book bans in TexasUtah, and Florida have resulted in hundreds of books being pulled off classroom and library shelves. Many of these books, labeled “sensitive materials”, are disproportionately books by or about LGBTQ+ people and people of color.

In this article, I analyze recently banned books and authors in the US:

  • I use a dataset of books banned in 2021-2022 and combine them with metadata from Google Books to examine the main topics of those books. I find that not just books about LGBTQ+ and sexuality are banned, but also books about Black history women in science. Many of the banned books were written recently (after the year 2000) and targeted towards younger audiences.
  • I examine the types of authors who have written the top banned books. A majority of these authors identify as women, non-binary, and/or people of color.
  • I take the most commonly banned books and ask GPT-3, ChatGPT, and Bing Chat if they would recommend those books to classrooms of different age groups.

Read more here.