Out of Darkness Named One of the Most Challenged Books of 2021

On April 4, during National Library Week, ALA released a list of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2021. The YA novel Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez ranked at #4.

Previously on the Lerner blog, Ashley contributed a guest post ahead of Banned Books Week titled “The Right to Read.” In the post she detailed her experience as the author of a challenged book and offered ways educators, parents, and students can resist such challenges.

Since that post there have been more challenges against books in school and public libraries—but there has also been a growing effort to provide librarians, educators, parents, and students with resources to resist these bans. Below, we’ve collected recent coverage of challenges against Out of Darkness, articles on the subject from Ashley Hope Pérez, additional media coverage, and resources from the ALA and others on fighting book challenges in your community.

Click here to see the ALA’s full Top 10 list of banned books and to learn ways of resisting book challenges and embrace the freedom to read.

Watch a video message from Ashley Hope Pérez: “Failing Students”

EveryLibrary Presents: Censored Authors Speak

Watch a round table discussion about book banning in America featuring Ashley Hope Pérez. Watch the video >

Articles from Ashley Hope Pérez:

“Book banning isn’t about content; it’s a fight for supremacy in culture wars,” Opinion, The Bloomington Herald-Times (March 10, 2022). 

“Book ban in Washington County is an example of the ‘new illiteracy’,” Opinion, The Salt Lake Tribune (Sunday, January 30, 2022).

“A Texas School District Banned My Book. Then Things Got Really Ugly.” Texas Monthly (December 2, 2021).    

Ashley Hope Pérez Interviews and Appearances

Interviewed on RadioWest, KUER weekly show: “Who Gets to Say What Kids Read?” (February 10, 2022).

Interviewed with Viet Thanh Nguyen on The Forum, KQED live call-in show hosted by Mina Kim: “‘Maus’ Among Latest Titles Banned in Some American School Districts” (February 2, 2022).

*Interviewed on Teach Me, Teacher by Jacob Chastain: “Addressing Book Bans with Ashley Hope Pérez,” episode 248 (January 31, 2022).

Interviewed for two-part KUTV news feature by Chris Jones and Nadia Pflaum: “Author of book banned from Washington County school libraries speaks out” (January 10, 2022),

“Banned author seeks dialogue with Washington County School District” (January 11, 2022).

Interviewed on Amplified with Aisha Mills, Black News Channel: “Author Ashley Hope Pérez on Book Censorship in Schools, Libraries” (December 17, 2021).

Interviewed on All Sides with Ann Fisher, WOSU live call-in show: “Book Bans, Censorship and The Growing Challenge to Stories About Race and LGBTQ Themes” (December 16, 2021).

Interviewed on KVUE by Mike Marut: “Williamson County commissioners withhold CARES Act funding from Round Rock, Leander ISDs over book controversy” (December 14, 2021).

Interviewed on What Next, Slate.com daily news podcast: “When Your Book Gets Banned By the School Board” (December 13, 2021).

Interviewed on Banished, Booksmart Studios podcast: “Out of Darkness, Into the Fire: Why is a 2015 book about segregation suddenly being banned throughout Texas?” (December 8, 2021).

James River Writers virtual panel: “Censorship and Book Banning: An Important and Timely Discussion” with authors Meg Medina and Elizabeth Acevedo (December 6, 2021, by Zoom).

Interviewed by Padma Venkatraman. “Ashley Hope Pérez and Padma Venkatraman on What Book Bans Are Really About.” PEN America Children’s and Young Adult Books Committee (November 30, 2021).

Interviewed on The Source, Texas Public Radio live call-in show: “GOP-fueled fight over kid-appropriate library books heats up in Texas” (November 16, 2021).

Out of Darkness and Book Banning in the News

Publishers Weekly, article by Pamela Brill: “Texas Book Ban Prompts School Librarians to Launch #FReadom Fighters” (February 8, 2022).

Rolling Stone, article by Andrea Marks: “‘Dangerous and Cruel’: YA Authors Say Unprecedented Book Bans Hurt Kids Most” (February 4, 2022). 

ABC 11, News, reporting by Joel Brown: “‘LGBT kids deserve to be seen’: Orange County School Board votes to keep controversial books” (February 2, 2022).

NBC News, article by Mike Hixenbaugh: “Banned: Books on race and sexuality are disappearing from Texas schools in record numbers” (February 1, 2022).

Slate.com, News and Politics, Article by Mary Harris: “What It’s Like to Have Your Book Banned by the School Board” (December 13, 2021).

The New York Times, Opinion by Michelle Goldberg: “A Frenzy of Book Banning” (November 12, 2021).

The Texas Tribune, Article by Brian Lopez and Cassandra Pollock: “How a YA Oral-Sex Scene Touched Off Texas’ Latest Culture War” (November 12, 2021).

The Washington Post, article by Hannah Knowles and Hannah Natanson: “Backlash to school books centering on race, sex and LGBTQ people turns into conservative rallying cry” (November 12, 2021).

The Los Angeles Times, Article by Molly Hennessy-Fiske: “A ‘war on books’? Conservatives push for audits of school libraries” (November 8, 2021).

Intellectual Freedom Blog, The Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association, Articles by Jamie Gregory: “Texas’s Book Censorship Hysteria: An Interview with Ashley Hope Pérez” (October 21, 2021), https://www.oif.ala.org/oif/?p=27171

“Practical Steps for Navigating Intellectual Freedom Challenges: Interviews with Tasslyn Magnusson and Ashley Hope Pérez” (January 27, 2022)

Additional Information on Banned Books

Be Prepared: For those seeking resources to combat challenges in your school or library, see our “Be Prepared” blog post here.

Lerner’s Banned and Challenged Books Info List

We’ve collected a list of Lerner and Lerner Publisher Services titles that have faced challenges or bans in schools or libraries. Find a brief summary of each title, along with reviews, awards, and supplemental teaching resources where available. View the list here.

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