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Push for book bans surges throughout the country, including North Carolina


From backlash over “critical race theory” to mask mandates, schools across the country are facing increased pressure from parents and lawmakers alike.

Another phenomenon on the front lines of the culture war? Book bans.

"Maus," a graphic novel about the Holocaust, was removed from an eighth-grade curriculum in Tennessee. In Oklahoma, a state Senate bill aimed to prohibit public school libraries from providing books on gender and sexual identity. In Waynesville, North Carolina, a book about a Black student experiencing racism was pulled from the assigned reading, and a handful of Mecklenburg County parents recently complained about a book with “mature content” in a school board meeting.

The American Library Association said it received over 330 reports of book challenges last fall, an uptick "not seen in decades.”

But these bans often result in the opposite of censure. After its removal from a Tennessee school system, "Maus" recently became an Amazon bestseller.

From parental activism to the complexities of free speech, we sit down with experts to explore book bans and why they have surged in North Carolina and beyond.


Summer Lopez, senior director of Free Expression Programs for PEN America

Shireen Campbell, professor of English, director of the Writing Center and acting chair of Educational Studies at Davidson College

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Jesse Steinmetz is Producer of Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. Before joining WFAE in 2019, he was an intern at WNPR in Hartford, Connecticut and hosted a show at Eastern Connecticut State University.