I have been following the Book Ban Battlegrounds covered by The American Library Association and the things I am seeing every week are SHOCKING.
Book challenges and book bans are increasing in libraries and schools all across the country. A majority of the books that have been targeted nationwide focus on sexual orientation, gender identity, race, and racicism–which are exactly the books that we need to be reading.
In a time of intense political polarization, library staff in every state are facing an unprecedented number of attempts to ban books. ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 729 challenges to library, school and university materials and services in 2021, resulting in more than 1,597 individual book challenges or removals. Most targeted books were by or about Black or LGBTQIA+ persons.
“This is a dangerous time for readers and the public servants who provide access to reading materials. Readers, particularly students, are losing access to critical information, and librarians and teachers are under attack for doing their jobs.”– Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom
Book bans harm communities. Students cannot access critical information to help them understand themselves and the world around them. Parents lose the opportunity to engage in teachable moments with their kids. And communities lose the opportunity to learn and build mutual understanding.
Take a stand. Read banned books. Talk about banned books.
Here are five steps you can take now to protect the freedom to read.
1. Follow news and social media in your community and state to keep apprised of organizations working to censor library or school materials.
2. Show up for library workers at school or library board meetings and speak as a library advocate and community stakeholder who supports a parent’s right to restrict reading materials for their own child but not for all
3. Help provide a safety net for library professionals as they defend intellectual freedom in their communities by giving to the LeRoy C. Merritt Humanitarian Fund.
4. Educate friends, neighbors, and family members about censorship and how it harms communities. Share information from Banned Books Week 2021.
5. Join the Unite Against Book Bans movement to learn what you can do to defend the freedom to read in your community.