People need to read books for book banning to even be a thing. This idea has been expressed in many different ways.
So Read. Keep reading. Read some more. Read what you want to read. Read what you decide to read.
Read for information. Read to learn. Read for fun. Read to escape. Read for entertainment. Read to experience the world from the point of view of different people. Read to cry. Read to be scared. Read to laugh.
Read to understand. Read to learn new things. Read to learn more about things you already know.
Read to learn the point of view of people that you might disagree with, even when you are certain that you will disagree with them. Read to consider new information, new evidence, new perspectives. Read critically, even skeptically, but read with an openness to change your mind when faced with rational and logical reasons to do so.
Read for whatever reason you decide. Stand up for your freedom to decide for yourself what you want to read.
That doesn’t mean you should read anything and everything. People that care about you might know why reading some things, at certain times, might not be so good for you. You might decide not read some books because of your age, maturity, or history. Some books might not be right for you because of your current mental or emotional health. Perhaps some material has nothing to offer you of any value. But that is for you to decide in cooperation with the people that you trust. That is not for other people, other groups, organizations or governments to decide for you.
People try to ban books because they don’t want you to read those books. If you don’t read books to begin with, you are doing their work for them.
It can be tempting to think of the banning of books as something that happened in the past, only by extremely conservative types, or in authoritarian regimes. Sadly, book banning is alive and well here and now. Sure, it is not shocking that anti-democratic governments in places like China, Russia, Iran, Hungary or Venezuela strictly control the flow of information and literature. Yet in our society, where we make claims on being champions of democracy and freedom, book banning is on the rise.
Kara Yorio writes in School Library Journal: “It has been a busy Banned Books Week, as the stepped-up challenges to books and their authors continue, with books by kid lit creators Jerry Craft and Kelly Yang added to the list of titles some parents claim are objectionable.” Read the rest of this article.
Meanwhile “Ruby Bridges Goes to School” has been targeted by book banners as well. Author Ruby Bridges recounts the true story of her experiences as a 6 year old girl who became the first black student to attend a formerly whites only public school. An organized group of parents wanted their local school board to ban this book, “for supposedly “explicit and implicit anti-American, anti-white” bias (source).” Read more in this Miami Herald article.
Here are four of the most challenged books from the last year, all available in our school library:
- George by Alex Gino. Challenged, banned, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, conflicting with a religious viewpoint, and not reflecting “the values of our community.”
- Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds. Banned and challenged because of the author’s public statements and because of claims that the book contains “selective storytelling incidents” and does not encompass racism against all people.
- All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. Banned and challenged for profanity, drug use, and alcoholism and because it was thought to promote antipolice views, contain divisive topics, and be “too much of a sensitive matter right now.”
- Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Banned, challenged, and restricted because it was thought to contain a political viewpoint, it was claimed to be biased against male students, and it included rape and profanity.
Read the rest of the “The Top 10 Challenged Books of 2020” from the American Library Association.