On September 27, 2023, WNDB CEO Ellen Oh joined Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) at a press conference in Washington, DC, in support of a resolution denouncing censorship and the pervasive spread of book bans in the US. Read Ellen’s full statement below and watch a clip of the conference here, via WBAL-TV 11.
“In 2014, when We Need Diverse Books was first launched, only 8 percent of children’s books published that year were written by authors who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. But less than a decade later, we’ve seen that number jump to 45% annually—that’s over a five-fold increase, which is directly tied to our nonprofit’s advocacy, mentorship, and programming.
Since our founding, WNDB has supported hundreds of diverse writers, many of whom are now published, including Angie Thomas, the bestselling author of The Hate U Give, and Angeline Boulley, the bestselling author of Firekeeper’s Daughter.
But diverse books are under attack. This year alone, nearly 4000 titles have been challenged across the nation, including The Hate U Give, Firekeeper’s Daughter, and many other books by the creators we’ve supported. Due to these bans, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ authors are not only losing their livelihoods from declining book sales and canceled school visits, they are also receiving death threats. Teachers and librarians are being forced to remove diverse books from their shelves, are being harassed and threatened, and many are in fear of losing their jobs. All this in the name of ‘parents’ rights,’ despite the fact that there are more layers of protection between a child and the pages of a book than there are between a child and the internet.
Who is most affected by these book bans? It’s the students—the kids and teens in our communities. When children lose access to diverse books, they are denied the opportunity to build empathy toward others who might not look like them. Let’s also keep in mind that BIPOC and LGBTQ+ kids are especially vulnerable to self-harm and have some of the highest rates of attempted suicide in the country. When these kids lose access to diverse books, they learn a powerful lesson: their stories, their lives, don’t matter.
That’s why We Need Diverse Books stands with Congressman Raskin and this resolution. We must trust our teachers and librarians. We must protect the freedom to read. And we must fight for the future of the next generation.”
Book bans are spreading at an alarming rate in the US and impacting over four million schoolchildren. But WNDB remains steadfast in championing diverse creators and protecting the freedom to read. You can join us in this fight by giving to our Books Save Live initiative.
Statistics about the number of diverse children’s books published annually can be found via the CCBC.