Whether you believe in the power of a New Year to change your life or your habits, there’s something to be said about flipping a calendar year to help you take stock of what’s important to you, and where and grow as you wish in the coming year. As the year draws to a close, we witness more than 18 months of continued book bans and censorship in US public schools and libraries. This is the perfect time to get together and develop your anti-censorship resolutions.
None of these promotions have to be big or grand. Small actions can have a big impact. But take a moment today to develop a checklist of things you can do in 2023 to help fight book bans. We’ve shared tips, tricks, and insights so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Grab a notebook or open a Google Doc and your calendar and sketch out plans for how you can help end book censorship in the new year.
Set up recurring tasks for actions such as B: Read the latest news on book censorship, read school and library board agendas and minutes, appear and/or write letters to your school and library board, and order books by and about marginalized people from your local library .
Then write down important dates for other tasks: voting in local elections, running for office if you are able, in-person and virtual events dealing with book bans and censorship, meetings and events of local or regional anti-censorship groups, Anti-Censorship/Freedom of Thoughts/First Amendment workshops and training and events in local institutions dealing with censorship (e.g. a book talk at an indie for an author whose work has been censored).
And finally, pool and share generously the tremendous number of resources to help with this ongoing problem. There is great work being done by so many groups, with toolkits and guides galore. Likewise, there are excellent followers on social media to help you stay informed, engaged, and active.
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Once you’ve done that, assess what might be missing and determine what you can offer to fill those gaps. Maybe you decide to take two friends to a school board meeting, or make a donation to a group like EveryLibrary or PEN America, or a librarian’s Go Fund Me, or buy gifts that benefit a group like We Need Diverse Books, or the Florida Freedom to Read Project to help in the ongoing First Amendment fight. Perhaps use your own book club to help fight the book ban.
We need you in the coming year and beyond. 2023 will be a tipping point for book bans and censorship, and anything you can do now to prepare to help preserve intellectual freedom for all is important and valuable.
Book censorship news: December 29, 2022
It’s refreshing to have a quieter week in terms of book ban news… but that’s likely to change in the coming weeks.
Let’s start with good news: The majority of the 300 books pulled from Wentzville, Missouri schools have been put back on the shelves. There were still 17 books permanently banned and it’s not entirely clear if the books are actually available or not, or the district says they are, but let’s win here. My book, Body Talk, is among those reportedly returned. Less good, and frankly, downright appalling: A resident of Uvalde, Texas, where 21 young students and educators were killed in a mass shooting, is urging the district to dump over 1,000 books for “transgenderism” and other dog-whistle words. PEN America offers a look at the year of censorship and its utter absurdity. How school librarians got into the red-hot center of right-wing book bans. “Almost every book the Meridian Library has seen challenged is either LGBTQ+ or about a person of color,” he said, “either as a main character or as an author.” That’s not surprising, but it’s a look at the books that at the Meridian Public Library (Idaho). Locals fight to keep books from being removed from Rapides Parish Public Library (Louisiana). A high school junior at Great Neck High School (New York) penned an amazing letter in defense of gender queer, a book that was the focus of local library board elections. There are TEN committees reviewing the 97 books under appeal in the Beaufort County School District (South Carolina). The comparison of the decisions made about To Kill a Mockingbird as a teaching text to the actual removal of books from the school library shelves in this play is so disingenuous and fundamentally misunderstands the difference between a book ban and a curriculum update. TKAM has not been banned and indeed can still be used as an educational text; it’s just not mandatory anymore. Red Hood and The Haters remain on the shelves at Carroll High School (Iowa). Let’s Talk It will be discussed at the Valley City Barnes County Public Library (North Dakota) in early January to determine whether or not it will be removed from the shelves. A look at what’s happening at the Texas Monthly Llano County Public Library (Texas). Calling herself a concerned Christian and grandmother, Murray said the books were “disgusting and perverted” and claimed they were synonymous with “childcare.” She said the library is funded by taxpayers and part of the government, who have had no role in teaching kids the ideas they think the books represent.” Of course, these are all queer books or sex education books. This is from the Keene Memorial Library in Fremont, Nebraska and the story/complaints contain all the keyword ideologies one would expect from right wing fanatics. Teens shouldn’t educate adults about why a wide selection of books should be on library shelves, but they are, and this story shows just how smart, articulate, and frustrated the teens of Nixa, Missouri are. “Fences was one of four books that LCPS parents wanted removed in the 2022-23 school year. It was the only successful challenge. Challenges are decided by a textbook committee and the principal.” This is Loudon County, Virginia, where fences are being eliminated from the senior high school curriculum. The Very Real Trauma of Book Bans: Book Censorship News, December 23, 2022 AI Isn’t the Threat to High School English. Censorship is: Book Censorship News, December 16, 2022 What is false, misinformation and misinformation?: Book Censorship News, December 9, 2022 The term “culture war” is journalistic negligence: Book Censorship News, December 2, 2022 book rating systems are no solution: Book Censorship News, November 25, 2022 My Book and 300+ others are banned in Missouri: Book Censorship News, November 18, 2022 The Holocaust has no two sides: Book Censorship News, November 11, 2022 Book banners are a weapon for legitimate resources: Book Censorship News, October 28, 2022 Republicans propose federal “Don’t Say Gay” law: Book Censorship News, October 21, 2022