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Get the best quotes on banned books from the authors themselves to learn and teach about the harms of censorship during Banned Books Week and beyond.

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These banned books quotes are more important than ever, as banning books remain on the rise, especially here in the United States, where I am located. Books are most often banned now for LGBTQ+ themes, as well as racial and religious diversity, and sexual content. And most of these books are Young Adult fiction, like the bestselling, award-winning Black Lives Matter book The Hate U Give.

(Source: Banned in the USA: The Growing Movement to Censor Books in Schools)

So, who better to talk about freedom of written speech than the writers who have experienced it?!

Of note, I started this list of quotes about banned books begin with two important quotes from Salman Rushdie, just weeks after he was violently stabbed on stage. I have continued to update it with quotes by authors I have personally heard and seen in media like podcasts and social media to give you the most unique and up-to-date curation based on my daily work experience in the literary field.

Below are all the best quotes on banned books you need to know.

I recently heard this quote by the bestselling author Jodi Picoult, on the ​Books, Beaches, and Beyond podcast​, and I thought her words accurately, succinctly, and clearly described why book banning is a problem, so I transcribed it to feature here:

“[Banned books] are stories that encourage kids to think for themselves, to learn about themselves, to understand that there are people different from them in the world and that’s not only okay, it’s fascinating. […]

Books create compassion; they create safe spaces where empathy is developed, and every time you ban a book you are taking away that lesson from a kid. We are not protecting children from salacious material — we are removing the tools that we give them to make sense of a world that is very confusing and difficult for a lot of kids.”

– Jodi Picoult

More Quotes on Banned Books

“What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.” – Salman Rushdie

“I think the level of danger [of publishing The Satanic Verses today] would have been exponentially higher in the age of the internet. You can spread hostility so fast now. We see that everyday in the way the internet is used as a force.” – Salman Rushdie

“I’m always sorry that people ban my books. Many times I’ve been called the most banned. Many times my books are banned by people who never read two sentences.” – Maya Angelou

“I believe that censorship grows out of fear, and because fear is contagious, some parents are easily swayed. Book banning satisfies their need to feel in control of their children’s lives. This fear is often disguised as moral outrage. They want to believe that if their children don’t read about it, their children won’t know about it. And if they don’t know about it, it won’t happen.” – Judy Blume

“Censorship is the child of fear and the father of ignorance.” – Laurie Halse Anderson

“The thought that leads me to contemplate with dread the erasure of other voices, of unwritten novels, poems whispered or swallowed for fear of being overheard by the wrong people, outlawed languages flourishing underground, essayists’ questions challenging authority never being posed, unstaged plays, cancelled films — that thought is a nightmare. As though a whole universe is being described in invisible ink.” – Toni Morrison

Read more from Toni Morrison: Quotes from The Bluest Eye | Quotes from Beloved

“There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.” – Joseph Brodsky

“[I]t takes just one parent who disapproves of a book to pressure the school and eventually the Board of Education.” – Isabel Allende

“I hate it that Americans are taught to fear some books and some ideas as though they were diseases.” – Kurt Vonnegut

“Banned books ban freedom of speech. I understand parents’ points of views in protecting children from inappropriate materials, and I respect their decisions. Age appropriateness is key to introducing banned books … Real life is not pretty, so discussing issues that banned books address helps students to make informed decisions when confronted with similar incidents.” – Beth Hammett

“This is a fight for the truth that has always existed even if it rarely gets told. When the youth are empowered with stories about the experiences of others, they become adults who understand the necessity for equity and equality and have the tools to build a world the likes of which we have never seen.” – George M. Johnson

“Submitting to censorship is to enter the seductive world of ‘The Giver’: the world where there are no bad words and no bad deeds. But it is also the world where choice has been taken away and reality distorted. And that is the most dangerous world of all.” – Lois Lowry

“[Cultural critics] are simply trying to protect their privileged notions of what literature is and should be. They are trying to protect privileged children. Or the seemingly privileged.” – Sherman Alexie

“The complaints about this book are not about keeping kids safe. Because if we really wanted to keep kids in the United States safe, we wouldn’t be talking about books.” – Juno Dawson

“There are so many complicated situations out there. And we can begin to give kids the tools they need to deal with it, if only to say, ‘You are not alone.'” – Jeanette Walls

“Censorship has nothing to do with protecting children. It has everything to do with protecting adults who don’t want to have difficult conversations with those children.” – Laurie Halse Anderson

“Any book worth banning is a book worth reading.” – Isaac Asimov

“I read banned books because no individual, no group, no organization has the right to impose their particular sense of morality on others. No individual, no group, no organization has the right to restrict the choice to open a book. And book.” – Nora Roberts

“[T]he first thing you ban is books. The second thing you start to ban is the kids that look like the kids in the book.” – George M. Johnson

“Reading develops cognitive skills. It trains our minds to think critically and to question what you are told. This is why dictators censor or ban books. It’s why it was illegal to teach slaves to read. It’s why girls in developing countries have acid thrown in their faces when they walk to school.” – Karin Slaughter

“Don’t get mad, get even. Don’t spend time waving signs or carrying petitions around the neighborhood. Instead, run, don’t walk, to the nearest nonschool library or to the local bookstore and get whatever it was that they banned. Read whatever they’re trying to keep out of your eyes and your brain, because that’s exactly what you need to know.” – Stephen King

“This is the trick, folks: within ignorance lies safety. So they attack the educational community — the enemy for the time being — with disruption.” – Chris Crutcher

“[I]t’s not just the books under fire now that worry me. It is the books that will never be written. The books that will never be read. And all due to the fear of censorship. As always, young readers will be the real losers.” – Judy Blume

“[My banned book, Lawn Boy] speaks to marginalized people who they’d rather just keep marginalized.” – Jonathan Evison

“When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you’re only telling the world that you fear what he might say.” – George R.R. Martin

“Ignorance is not bliss, it’s stupid. Banning books shows you don’t trust your kids to think and you don’t trust yourself to be able to talk to them.” – Anna Quindlen

“Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too.” – Voltaire

“Banning books gives us silence when we need speech. It closes our ears when we need to listen. It makes us blind when we need sight.” – Stephen Chbosky

Read more from Stephen Chbosky: Quotes from The Perks of Being a Wallflower

“There’s nothing to be proud or excited about with young people not being able to find the books that they need in their school library[.]” – Ashley Hope Pérez

“[W]hen we get to a situation where that one person’s dislike of my work leads to everyone else not having access to that, that is a huge issue, I think, because it encroaches on our freedom to really absorb and love and enjoy literature from where we are.” – Amanda Gorman

“There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches.” – Ray Bradbury

Read More: Quotes from Fahrenheit 451 | Full Review of Fahrenheit 451

“A dangerous book will always be in danger from those it threatens with the demand that they question their assumptions. They’d rather hang on to the assumptions and ban the book.” – Ursula K. Le Guin

“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.” – Oscar Wilde

“I believe that censorship grows out of fear, and because fear is contagious, some parents are easily swayed. Book banning satisfies their need to feel in control of their children’s lives. This fear is often disguised as moral outrage. They want to believe that if their children don’t read about it, their children won’t know about it. And if they don’t know about it, it won’t happen.” – Judy Blume


Now you know all the most important quotes on banned books from authors themselves. If you want to read the perspectives of the students on the ends of these book bans next, I highly recommend this compilation of student quotes on banned books by the New York Times.

And, if you come across any new author quotes on this rapidly evolving issue, or if you are an author who wants to make a statement on banned books, please let me know in the comments so I can make it the best resource possible.

Lastly, share these quotes to promote awareness and support for banned books.

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