[Video description: Over a series of still images of books and stock footage of reading and learning, the following text displays across the screen:
“Banned Books Week is September 26 – October 2. This annual event celebrates the freedom to read and ‘highlights the value of free and open access to information.’ The first Banned Books Week was in 1982, following a sharp increase in challenges to books in libraries, bookstores, and schools. While most challenges are unsuccessful, if a book is banned, it is removed. According to the American Library Association, parents challenge materials more often than any other group.
The top 10 most challenged books for 2020 include themes of racial justice, stories centered around BIPOC, and LGBTQIA+ content. Of the top 10 most challenged books, 70% were by authors from marginalized groups.
Banned Books Week ‘brings together the entire book community in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.’ 2021’s theme is ‘Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.’
‘Ever since the existence of books, there have been those that have wanted to control them. Books are messengers. They can educate and liberate, as well as entertain and invite readers into worlds they never knew existed. Books give people hope.’ — Nicole Klett, ‘How to Talk With Students about Banned Books'”
The video ends with credits acknowledging sources of information: www.ala.org and www.bannedbooksweek.org.]
VIDEO PRODUCTION CREDITS
Produced by JoAnn Yao
Scripted & edited by Anya Steiner
Graphics by Amber Hooke
By JoAnn Yao
Banned. Challenged. Censored. Books featuring content considered objectionable or difficult have always come under fire, especially in education.
While we are posting during Banned Books Week specifically, WNDB recognizes that the need for diverse books is ongoing, especially given recent challenges to books by and featuring people from various marginalized groups.
At WNDB, we believe that stories are often the most powerful and immediate way to instill and expand empathy. That is why it’s more important than ever that everyone has access to diverse books.
GENERAL BANNED BOOK RESOURCES
Banned Books Week Official Resources – “The members of the Banned Books Week coalition have a number of resources available to support Banned Books Week programming, promotion of the annual celebration of the right to read, and banned books themselves. Many of these resources can be used throughout the year, so you can celebrate the right to read every day!”
American Library Association (ALA) Frequently Challenged Books – “We compile lists of challenged books in order to inform the public about censorship efforts that affect libraries and schools. Peruse the following pages to explore banned and challenged books by topic, genre, time, and audience.”
ALA Banned Books Week Q&A – “This resource offers issues, strategies, and resources for preparing your professional community (teacher librarians and public librarians) to celebrate Banned Books Week.”
National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) Resources – “Learn about your First Amendment rights, what censorship can look like, techniques for preventing it, how to handle incidents of silencing and specific ways to defend free expression in your communities and nationally.”
How to Talk With Students About Banned Books – “[An] important aspect to consider is who is bringing forth the complaint to remove the books. Is there a concerned parent that found graphic violence in a children’s book? Or is there a publishing group that recognizes the harm of continuing to promote outdated tropes? Or is there a group with a political agenda to censor?”
Why Your Kid Should Read Banned Books – “Five good reasons for kids to read banned books.”
5 Things You Can Do to Support the Right to Read – “Whether you’re a librarian, teacher, bookseller, student, or writer, there are a number of things you can do to defend and support the right to read.”
Are Antiracism Books for Kids Actually Working? – “Books cannot fully inform children on how to combat racism unless they also read books that relay stories and messages from people of color.”
Windows, Mirrors, and Sliding Glass Doors – Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop’s seminal essay on how reading seeds empathy, especially in children. “Children from dominant social groups have always found their mirrors in books, but they, too, have suffered from the lack of availability of books about others.”
FOR DIRECT CHALLENGES
ALA Challenge Support – Resources for librarians seeking support (whether in the form of guidance or encouragement) during censorship challenges, including information on when and how to directly contact the Office for Intellectual Freedom, which “is charged with implementing ALA policies concerning the concept of intellectual freedom as embodied in the Library Bill of Rights, the Association’s basic policy on free access to libraries and library materials.”
National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Intellectual Freedom Center – Includes a handbook for educators on responding to book challenges and contact information for NCTE members seeking support/assistance with censorship issues.
NCAC Book Censorship Action Kit – The NCAC’s “collection of materials on how to effectively fight challenges to books in schools for the use of students, educators, parents, and authors.” Includes advocacy tips, concrete actions, form letters, and more.
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund – “Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of the First Amendment rights of the comics art form and its community of retailers, creators, publishers, librarians, and readers. The CBLDF provides legal referrals, representation, advice, assistance, and education in furtherance of these goals.”
NCAC/CBLDF’S Be Heard! Protecting Your Protest Rights – For students specifically, including guidelines on how to work with school limitations on free speech.
JoAnn Yao is the Social Media Manager for We Need Diverse Books. Among other things, she has conducted research for the American Film Institute, provided book and script coverage for a Hollywood agency, designed an online narrative game, and written a comic for a New Frontiers anthology. She lives in New York City with her dragon’s hoard of books. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram.