Media Contact

Paul Bowers, Communications Director at ACLU-SC:

Josh Malkin, Senior Advocacy Strategist at ACLU-SC:

September 7, 2023

In response to a public records request filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of South Carolina, the Berkeley County School District has released a list of 93 books that have been targeted for censorship in the district’s classrooms and libraries. That list is copied at the bottom of this press release.

Executive Director Jace Woodrum gave this statement:

“Book banning is an unconstitutional infringement on the First Amendment guarantee of access to information. Censorship remains deeply unpopular across the state and across the political spectrum, and we hope that the district will listen to parents, teachers, students, and librarians who support the freedom to read.”

We are glad to hear that the challenged books are still available to students pending review, and we encourage the district to continue following district policy KNBA-R (“Complaints About Instructional Materials”), which states, “Challenged material will not be removed from general use during the reconsideration procedure.”

What we know

The list of challenged books includes 12 titles by Ellen Hopkins, 10 by Sarah J. Maas, and 3 by Rupi Kaur. It includes contemporary classics such as Sarah Gruen’s Water for Elephants and Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, as well as 20th-century masterpieces like Richard Wright’s Native Son and Toni Morrison’s Beloved.

According to the records provided by the district, a single person filed all of the book challenges. Nearly all of the books were challenged on a single day, May 27, 2023. As part of the Request for Reconsideration of Instructional Material, this person indicated that she had read all 93 books herself.

The big picture

The playbook of book banners is obvious by now.

The challenged books list in Berkeley County included titles that activists in other parts of the state have targeted before. For example, pro-censorship activists attempted to ban The Kite Runner last year in Beaufort County Schools, where review committees are still going through a list of 90+ challenged books. Isabel Quintero’s Gabi: A Girl in Pieces was previously challenged in Horry County, where, similarly, a single person sought to ban a list of books all at once.

All of the titles being challenged in Berkeley County are listed on BookLooks, a site commonly used by political interest groups like Moms for Liberty to disseminate superficial talking points.

The ACLU-SC encourages parents to stay involved in the education of their children. Parents who object to a book’s content can follow established protocols at their district to exempt their children from reading it. But it would be unreasonable and unfair to hide a book from all children because one parent objects to it.

The ACLU-SC remains committed to the freedom to read and encourages anyone interested in pushing back against this wave of censorship to join Freedom to Read SC and ProTruth SC. The ACLU-SC remains involved in the federal court case NAACP v. Pickens County School District, challenging a politically motivated book ban.


The challenged books list provided by the school district is below. In addition to the list of titles, we have received PDF copies of the forms that were submitted to challenge the books in Berkeley County Schools and will share those forms with media outlets upon request.



A Court of Frost and Starlight

Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Mist and Fury

Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Silver Flames

Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses

Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Wings and Ruin

Sarah J. Maas

A Lesson in Vengeance

Victoria Lee


Amy Efaw

All American Boys

Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

All Boys Aren't Blue *

George M. Johnson

All The Bright Places

Jennifer Niven

All the Things We Do In the Dark

Saundra Mitchell

And They Lived

Steven Salvatore

Ask the Passengers

A.S. King


Toni Morrison

Beyond Magenta

Susan Kuklin


Megan McCafferty


Ellen Hopkins

Clockwork Princess

Cassandra Clare

Concrete Rose

Angie Thomas

Cool For the Summer

Dahlia Adler


Ellen Hopkins


Elana Arnold


E.R. Frank

Eleanor and Park

Rainbow Rowell

Emergency Contact

Mary H.K. Choi

Empire of Storms

Sarah J. Maas


Ellen Hopkins

Felix Ever After

Kacen Callender

Gabi, A Girl in Pieces

Isabel Quintero


Ellen Hopkins


Gillian French


Tiffany D. Jackson

Home Body

Rupi Kaur

House of Earth and Blood

Sarah J. Maas

House of Sky and Breath

Sarah J. Maas

I am not your Perfect Mexican Daughter

Erika L. Sanchez


Ellen Hopkins

I'll Give you the Sun

Jandy Nelson


Ellen Hopkins

Jay's Gay Agenda

Jason June

Jesus Land

Julia Scheeres

Juliet Takes a Breath

Gabby Rivera

Kingdom of Ash

Sarah J. Maas

Last Night at the Telegraph Club

Malinda Lo

Like a Love Story

Abdi Nazemian

Looking for Alaska

John Green


Alice Sebold

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Jesse Andrews

Milk and Honey

Rupi Kaur

Monday's not coming

Tiffany D. Jackson

More Happy Than Not

Adam Silvera

Native Son

Richard Wright

Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe

Preston Norton

Nick and Charlie

Alice Oseman

Out of Darkness

Ashley Hope Perez

People Kill People

Ellen Hopkins



Queen of Shadows

Sarah J. Maas

Ramona Blue

Julie Murphy

Red Hood

Elana K. Arnold

Red, White and Royal Blue

Casey McQuiston


Lauren Myracle


Lauire Halse Anderson


Kurt Vonnegut


Ellen Hopkins


Patricia McCormick


Laurie Halse Anderson


Elana K. Arnold

The Art of Racing In The Rain

Garth Stein

The Black Flamingo

Dean Atta

The Handsome Girl and Her Beautiful Boy

B.T. Gottfred

The Haters

Jesse Andrews

The Kite Runner

Khaled Hosseini

The Lovely Bones

Alice Sebold

The Midnight Lie

Marie Rutkoski

The Nowhere Girls

Amy Reed

The Opposite of Innocent

Sonya Sones

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Stephen Chbosky

The Poet X

Elizabeth Acevedo

The Sun and her Flowers

Rupi Kaur

The Truth About Alice

Jennifer Mathieu

The Upside of Unrequited

Becky Albertalli

The You I've Never Known

Ellen Hopkins

Thirteen Reasons Why

Jay Asher

This One Summer

Mariko Tamaki


Ellen Hopkins


Ellen Hopkins


Ellen Hopkins

Unravel Me

Tahereh Mafi

Water for Elephants

Sarah Gruen

What Girls Are Made of

Elana K. Arnold

Wicked: The life and times of the Wicked Witch of the West

Gregory Maguire


Mary H.K. Choi

* All Boys Aren’t Blue was included on a list of challenged books provided by the district. However, the Request for Reconsideration paperwork provided via the FOIA request did not include a challenge of that specific book.

The covers of books challenged in Berkeley County Schools

The covers of more books challenged in Berkeley County Schools