Every year, hundreds of colleges and universities throughout the nation carefully select a single book for their campus communities to read, analyze, and discuss. A recent study conducted by Young America’s Foundation exposes a concerning trend within these common reading programs.
YAF’s Radical Reads Report for the 2023-2024 academic year uncovers the stark reality of leftist dominance in these reading programs: Only a single conservative book was assigned.
YAF examined texts that were assigned or recommended by universities participating in Penguin Random House’s “Common Reads” program, the largest national initiative of its sort in higher education.
The publishing conglomerate retains an advisory board of six liberal professors who make title selection recommendations to college and university administrators throughout the country, influencing the reading assignments of hundreds of thousands of young people.
The company releases an annual report detailing the selections of all participating schools (including those that assign titles published by competitors.)
YAF meticulously assessed each book’s ideology by reviewing book descriptions, crowdsourced genre classifications, customer reviews, and background research on the author of each title.
Texts peddling the Left’s lies represented the largest share of assigned titles. In total, 142 books were found to exhibit a clear liberal bias, featuring themes in alignment with the LGBT+ agenda, critical race theory, and climate alarmism, among others.
Incoming students at Albion College, for example, were required to read Gender Queer: A Graphic Memoir by Maia Kobabe. This book, which has been at the forefront of debates for the past several years, follows the author’s “journey of self-discovery” as a “non-binary” person. It contains obscene illustrations of masturbation, and oral sex involving a young boy and an adult male, among other sexual acts. Students will discuss the book throughout the semester with their first-year seminar instructors.
American University ordered its freshmen to read Why Didn’t We Riot? A Black Man in Trumpland in advance of their first day of class. This memoir of a police abolition activist details his complaints of life as a black man under the Trump administration and attempts to rationalize political violence. AU’s students will also discuss their reading throughout the semester and will be required to write a reflection essay.
Other notable examples include Gordo, a gay fiction award nominee, assigned by California State University – Monterey Bay, His Name is George Floyd, assigned by Christian Brothers University, How to Be an Antiracist, assigned by Johnson County Community College, The Octopus in the Parking Garage: A Call for Climate Resilience, assigned by Louisiana State University, and Becoming by Michelle Obama, recommended by Wake Forest University.
118 books were identified as neutral, lacking inherent ideological bias. These selections largely included classics such as Frankenstein by Mary Shelly, self-help books, and historical nonfiction works.
YAF was unable to determine with certainty the ideological bias of 39 titles.
Presidential Candidate and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy’s Nation of Victims: Identity Politics, the Death of Merit, and the Path Back to Excellence, was assigned by Northwood University, a private institution in Michigan. This sole conservative title encourages readers to reject victimhood culture and embrace traditional American values.
If colleges and universities are truly interested in encouraging critical thinking, why only present one perspective? Instead, students should be presented with multiple perspectives.
The higher education system is committed to pushing the Left’s narrative from the moment students step foot on campus – if not sooner.
These findings emphasize the importance of Young America’s Foundation’s campus lecture programs and conferences, which allow students to hear the common sense conservative viewpoints they otherwise would never encounter.