Fact Check-Florida has not banned ‘Of Mice and Men’ and other classics for being ‘woke’

Florida has not banned 25 book titles including John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” and Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” for being “woke,” despite the claims of some social media users.

The list has been shared widely online, with some users claiming the titles have been banned in schools and libraries across the state.

Actor Mark Hammil shared the list on Twitter with a caption that reads: “This also works nicely as a Recommended Reading List” (here).

Text printed above the list reads: “Florida’s Anti-Woke banned book list. A couple of them make sense considering republicans should be terrified their constituents might read ‘1984’.” The tweet had gathered more than 150,000 likes at the time of writing.

Other examples of the claim shared online can be found (here), (here), (here) and (here).

The list is fabricated, however, and the mentioned titles have not been banned across the state.

There is no state-wide ban on book titles, Byran Griffin, spokesperson for the state’s Governor Ron DeSantis, told Reuters by email.

In January 2020, DeSantis and then state Education Commissioner, Richard Corcoran, announced the Florida Department of Education had completed a review of Florida’s K-12 academic standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics and made recommendations for revisions per the proposed Florida Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking (B.E.S.T.) Standards (here).

Some of the titles mentioned in the list circulating online are included in Florida’s Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking (B.E.S.T.) Standards including ‘1984’, ‘Of Mice and Men’ and ‘Lord of the Flies’ (here), (

Griffen told Reuters that as of June 30, 2023, school districts must report to the Commissioner of Education each material the district received an objection to, the material that was removed due to the objection and the grade level for which the material was used.

This comes after DeSantis signed into law a bill in March 2022 (HB 1467) that would require school districts to be “more transparent” about the selection of educational materials used, including library and reading materials (here).

Beginning next year, per HB 1467, an official list of books that parents have challenged in school districts will be published by the Florida Department of State. The list will be disseminated to school districts “for their consideration” (here).

PEN America, a non-profit organization that advocates for freedom of expression, confirmed the titles in the list circulating online does not show titles that have been banned or removed across the state.

The organization sent Reuters a log of instances where the books on the list circulating online have been banned in certain school districts this year (here).

In a report published in April 2022, PEN America found that over 1,000 books, most addressing racism, and LGBTQ issues, had been banned from U.S. libraries and schools in the previous nine months (here).

Similarly, the American Libraries Association (ALA) told Reuters: “While there have been attempts – some successful – to ban the titles listed in the viral post, it is not a list of books banned by the state of Florida or by any state agency in Florida.”

The ALA identifies the most challenged titles in the country every year, with statistics and lists viewable (here).


False. The book titles circulating in a list online including ‘Of Mice and Men’ have not been banned across Florida.

Update August 24, 2022: Clarifies description of list PEN America sent to Reuters in para 14 and corrects typo in para 15

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here.