The recent rash of documented complaints against specific books in schools and libraries have grown to an overwhelming number. Not only are the numbers concerning, but the complaints are also targeting books on the shelves of public libraries and bookstores all over the country. Books that have helped children learn more about themselves and others in the world are being removed from their hands. Books that have been created by authors who share the same identities of these kids are being censured into silence.
So what can we do about it?
While the SCBWI has already partnered with the American Library Association in uniting against book bans (see the toolkit here), I’ve also asked kidlit advocate and independent researcher, Dr. Tasslyn Magnusson, to give us a few tips on what we can do, even if we don’t live in a community directly facing these challenges. Here are some ways we can still help:
- Go to your local school board meeting. Share at the mic your positive experiences with reading programs and the library, especially if you have kids. This is critical in any community as it provides a counter message to those communities targeted by censorship, giving librarians and staff a bastion of proof that their hard work is recognized.
- Write to your local school board and administrators. Tell them, as an author, how much you appreciate their reliance on professional reviews as part of an acquisition and collections strategy. Do the same for the public library board.
- Learn about the challenge process at your school or library and be able to explain it to parents in your community who might be concerned. There are established policies and procedures for making this kind of objection. Use them to protect the books in question.
- Ask for diverse books to be purchased at your local library. And ask your local bookstores to carry those same books for their customers if they don’t already.
- Support parent groups or national groups with your donations if possible.
- Follow Kelly Jensen at Book Riot—she has the most up to date news reporting on all things censorship and also writes about easy to achieve action steps and training to get involved.
- And most of all, stay informed.
If you are interested in learning more about censorship attacks and where they are occurring, please visit the free database collected by Dr. Magnusson in partnership with EveryLibrary Institute. You can learn more about Dr. Magnusson and her other projects by visiting her website: www.tasslynmagnusson.com
And for more information about this year’s celebration of banned books please visit the American Library Association’s press kit here.
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Images courtesy of the American Library Association.