It’s Banned Books week and of course, we at Rich in Color couldn’t not let this week pass without sharing some book recommendations for you, or bringing you information and resources.
Book banning and challenges are nothing new, hence why we have this week in the first place, but for the past two years book bans/challenges have been particularly aggressive on a level not seen before. Some of these challenges/bans have come with personal attacks against authors, teachers and librarians. In Texas and Florida particularly, state legislatures have tried to ban books from school libraries, classrooms, and even created laws towards curriculum. It’s very nasty out there.
Today I looked at the 2021-2022 challenged/banned book list that Pen America put together and it broke my heart. Of all the books I’ve taught in my 19 years of teaching, 13 are on the list. Currently 1 book our 6th graders are reading, 3 books our 7th graders are reading, only 1 book I’m teaching is on the list. I’m not too sure why some of my other books are not there because they would fit the criteria (about LGBTQ kids, characters of color, racism, immigration) but still…that list is disturbing. They are really trying to silence us.
But they won’t! Not as long as we continue to fight back, to promote books with diverse voices, and vote. If you’re wondering what you can do to help, check out the resources we have below!
WHAT YOU CAN DO
How to Support Diverse Books from We Need Diverse Books
- From How to Support Diverse Books: “Myth #1: “You should buy copies of banned books.”
- Reality: Purchasing banned books is usually our first instinct, but on its own, it’s nowhere near enough. As Karen Jensen of Teen Librarian Toolbox writes: “Buying the book will help keep it in publication, but it doesn’t necessarily help libraries, school or public.” Ultimately, it depends on what you’re planning to do with the books that you purchase, which leads us to Myth #2.”
Buying banned books may feel like a meaningful action – and it’s always great to support marginalized authors! – but fighting back against censorship and book bannings takes more than that. It’s a systemic issue and requires systemic solutions, not individual or performative ones… Getting involved in your community is crucial.
Share banned books on social media and in your community
Get involved in your local community and school board; support local librarians and teachers who are fighting back against book bans.
Donate to prison book programs
- Haymarket Books’s Books to Prisons initiative
- ALA resource guide for book donation programs for prison libraries
- Prison Book Program
- Books Through Bars
That’s all for now. On Thursday we’ll highlight some specific books and the challenges against them and how this current movement is more about silencing diverse voices than free speech.