Whether or not you believe in the power of a new year to change your life or your habits, there’s something to be said about the flipping of a calendar year to help you take stock in what is important to you and where and how you wish to grow in the coming year. As the year comes to a close and we’re riding out 18-plus months of ongoing book bans and censorship across public schools and libraries in the U.S., this is the perfect time to sit down and develop your anti-censorship resolutions.
None of these actions need to be big or grand. Small actions can have big impact. But today, take a few moments to develop a checklist of tasks you can do in 2023 to help combat book bans. We’ve been sharing tips, tricks, and insights, so you don’t need to do any reinventing the wheel. Grab a notebook or open up 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: reading the latest news on book censorship, perusing school and library board agendas and minutes, showing up to and/or writing letters to your school and library board, and requesting books by and about marginalized people at your local library.
Then, write down key dates for other tasks: voting in local elections, running for office if you’re able to, in-person and virtual events exploring book bans and censorship, meetings and events held by local or regional anti-censorship groups, workshops and trainings related to anti-censorship/intellectual freedom/First Amendment Rights, and events at local institutions exploring censorship (such as a book talk at an indie for an author whose work has been censored).
And finally, pool together the tremendous number of resources to help with this ongoing issue and share them liberally. There is great work being done by so many groups, with toolkits and guides aplenty. Likewise, there are excellent follows across 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 holes. Maybe you decide you’re going to take two friends with you to a school board meeting or that you’re going to donate to a group like EveryLibrary or PEN America or a librarian’s Go Fund Me, or purchase swag that benefits a group like We Need Diverse Books or Florida Freedom to Read Project to help in the on-going fight for the First Amendment. Maybe use your own book club to aid in the fight against book banning.
We need you in the coming year and beyond. 2023 is going to be a watershed year for book bans and censorship, and anything you can do now to prepare to help in preserving intellectual freedom for all is important and valuable.
Book Censorship News: December 29, 2022
It’s refreshing to have a quieter week in book ban news…but that’s likely going to change in the next couple of weeks.
- Let’s launch with good news: the majority of the 300 books pulled from Wentzville schools (Missouri) were put back on shelves. There were still 17 books permanently banned, and it’s not entirely clear whether or not the books are actually available or the district is saying they are, but let’s take the win here. My book, Body Talk, is among those allegedly returned.
- Less good and frankly, downright appalling: A Uvalde, Texas, resident — where there was a mass shooting that killed 21 young students and educators — is demanding the district throw out over 1,000 books because of “transgenderism” and other dog whistle words.
- PEN America offers a look at the year in censorship and its utter absurdity.
- How school librarians found themselves in 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 the main character or author.” This isn’t surprising, but it’s a look at the books being challenged at Meridian Public Library (Idaho).
- Locals are fighting to ensure books are not removed from the Rapides Parish Public Library (Louisiana).
- A high school junior at Great Neck High School (New York) penned a fantastic letter in defense of Gender Queer, a book that has been a focal point of the local library board elections.
- There are TEN committees reviewing the 97 books being challenged at Beaufort County School District (South Carolina).
- Comparing the decisions made over To Kill a Mockingbird as an instructional text to the actual removal of books from school library shelves in this piece is so disingenuous and fundamentally misunderstands the difference between a book ban and a curriculum update. TKAM was not banned and can, in fact, still be used as a classroom text; it’s just no longer mandated.
- Red Hood and The Haters will remain on shelves at Carroll High School (Iowa).
- Let’s Talk About It will be under discussion at the Valley City Barnes County Public Library (North Dakota) in early January to determine whether or not it’ll be removed from shelves.
- A look at what’s happening at the Llano County Public Library (Texas) from Texas Monthly.
- “Calling herself a concerned Christian and grandmother, Murray said the books were “sickening and perverse” and alleged they equated to “child grooming.” She said the library is funded by taxpayers and a part of government, which had no role in teaching children the ideas she claimed the books espouse.” Of course they’re all queer books or books about sexual education. This is from the Keene Memorial Library in Fremont, Nebraska and the story/complaints have all of the keyword ideologies you’d expect from right-wing fanatics.
- Teens should not be schooling adults about why a wide range of books should be on library shelves, but they are and this story is a look at how smart, articulate, and frustrated the teens of Nixa, Missouri, are.
- “Fences was one of four books LCPS parents sought to remove in the 2022-23 school year. It was the only successful challenge. Challenges are decided on by a textbook committee and the school superintendent.” This is Loudon County, Virginia, removing Fences from upperclassmen curriculum.
- The Very Real Trauma from 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 Are Mis-, Dis-, and Mal- Information?: Book Censorship News, December 9, 2022
- The “Culture War” Designation is Journalistic Negligence: Book Censorship News, December 2, 2022
- Book Ratings Systems Are Not a Solution: Book Censorship News, November 25, 2022
- My Book, Plus 300+ Others, Is Banned in Missouri: Book Censorship News, November 18, 2022
- There Are Not Two Sides to the Holocaust: Book Censorship News, November 11, 2022
- Book Banners are Weaponizing Legitimate Resources: Book Censorship News, October 28, 2022
- Republicans Propose Federal “Don’t Say Gay” Bill: Book Censorship News, October 21, 2022