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Take Action: Challenging Book Bans

By: Blanca Hernandez and Rachael Diericks

As we close out our observation of Banned Books Week, here are five ways you can join in the efforts to combat censorship and support educators, librarians, authors, and readers.

  1. Don’t underestimate the power of your voice! One of the best ways to take on book challenges and bans is to speak up and actively participate in the conversation by following the organizations that focus on this work. Five important orgs to watch are the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, the Freedom to Read Foundation, PEN America, United Against Book Bans. Follow their social media accounts and explore their websites to keep up with the latest news on book challenges. Look for local grassroots groups on social media or neighborhood sites.
  2. Become aware of who is serving on your local School Board and Library Board, when they meet, and what agenda items will be on the meetings. The members of these boards are usually easy to locate on the school district or library’s website, where you can also find the meeting times and agendas and learn when public comments are allowed. You can attend and speak at those meetings, and they may also be broadcast on local television or streamed online. Fight for the First can help you find others in your local community opposed to book bans. United Against Book Bans has a Toolkit to aid you with talking points and information about how to contact these and other local officials.
  3. Write to your state senators and representatives, who are in positions to oppose laws that could restrict what topics are able to be discussed in schools. Some states are also enacting laws that change how libraries select books and handle complaints. States are also considering repealing laws that protect librarians and educators from prosecution for using educational materials some find objectionable. Find your state, local, and national officials here.
  4. Talk with and support your local librarians and educators who find themselves in the crosshairs of this culture war for simply doing their jobs. When all you hear is criticism, a word of thanks and encouragement can go a long way.
  5. Read banned books! American poet and essayist Joseph Brodsky aptly stated, “There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.” Banned books are a valuable tool for starting conversations about difficult topics and can expose us to new ideas and perspectives. Check out the “Banned Books” section of the official American Library Association (ALA) website for more information or talk to the librarians at your local public library for book suggestions.


Photo by Jessica Ruscello on Unsplash

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