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Claudia Johnson

Claudia Johnson is a nationally recognized advocate for free speech and social justice. In 1993, she was honored with the inaugural PEN/Newman’s Own First Amendment Award, presented by Paul Newman, for her “extraordinary efforts to restore banned literary classics to Florida classrooms”—and again in the 2022 “PEN America at 100” exhibition at the New York Historical Society. She continues to fight book banning, recently helping reinstate banned books to Virginia Beach classrooms and libraries.   

Pulitzer Prize Nominee


Winner of the 1993 PEN/Newman’s Own First Amendment Award for Claudia Johnson’s extraordinary efforts to restore banned literary classics from Florida classrooms. 

Library Bookshelves

About the Book

"As the battle over censorship and book banning rages on, Claudia Johnson helps us understand why it’s more important than ever to keep books on the shelves. Told with passion, humor, and an enduring love of literature, this is a must read for all book lovers.” 

– Judy Blume 

Part memoir, part courtroom drama, and part primer for advocates fighting assaults on free speech, Stifled Laughter is the story of one woman's efforts to restore literary classics to the classrooms of rural north Florida. Updated with a new introduction, Johnson's honest, often hilarious, first-person account of censorship in its modern form provides valuable insight into why the books children read at school remains a controversial issue, and why free speech in America remains a precarious right. 


For anyone who has ever wondered just how far those who seek to ban books will go in limiting free expression, this book proves once again that the personal is political. At a time when book banning has reached new heights, parents and teachers, writers, and readers will all benefit from Johnson's experience and be touched by her spirit and courage. 

What people are saying...

“Funny, inspiring, and timely, Stifled Laughter is an emotional roller-coaster ride through the classrooms, community meetings, and courthouses that serve as the battleground for censorship. Hooray for Claudia Johnson, she’s an American hero!”  


– Jonathan Evison, author of Lawn Boy 

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