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Book Banning Narrative Trends

April 5, 2022Evan Robert

Book bans are nothing new. From burning “heretics” at the stake for attempting to translate the Bible, to book burnings in Nazi Germany, history is fraught with examples of institutions and people grappling over what information should be available for public consumption.

Currently, America is dealing with its own book ban dilemma in the classroom. States are considering or signing legislation that prevents certain literature from being taught in classrooms. Two Kudzu Narrative Intelligence briefs can help us understand the divide in thought on this issue from Right to Left.

Left-leaning outlets seem to be placing more importance on this issue than the Right in the past 30 days, with the Kudzu brief analyzing 150 stories from the left-leaning media, while right-leaning media only amplified 61 stories.


Among the top keywords in the left-leaning brief are the terms “public school,” “Ron DeSantis,” and “gender queer.” These keywords align with the news that Florida governor Ron DeSantis passed a law forbidding “instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade.”

The right-leaning brief also includes the top terms mentioned above, and they additionally share keywords relating to the American Library Association. The ALA recently announced that a record 729 book challenges had been filed in 2021.

The book Gender Queer by Maia Kobabes has reportedly received the most challenges, and, understandably, the most press from both sides. The left-leaning brief recorded 32 mentions of the phrase “gender queer,” while the right-leaning recorded 19 mentions.

With regard to banning books, right-leaning media appears to be focused on preventing the America’s youth from being indoctrinated by literature that promotes LGBTQ issues and critical race theory. Alternatively, left-leaning media maintains that these challenges and bans infringe on intellectual freedoms, and further claim that right-wing politicians and media are creating a straw man out of the perceived indoctrination of grade school students.

In an era of social acuity to censorship online and in print, narratives surrounding book bans are sure to be mainstays in public discussion. These Kudzu briefs, right and left, will automatically update as the media’s discussion of book bans progresses.

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