Banned Books Week 2023
Book banning is not new to American history, but they are back nationwide with a vengeance. Attacks on libraries, librarians, bookstores, teachers, and authors are becoming more commonplace and legislatures nationwide are attempting to criminalize librarians and teachers.
Whether banning Huckleberry Finn, Gender Queer, or Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, conservative activist groups are pushing school districts and libraries across the US to remove books from the shelves, largely bypassing the review processes that are already in place. We have seen it in Idaho and many other states are gearing up for more challenges in schools, public libraries, and in legislatures across the US in the coming year.
In recent years, challenges have changed focusing on LGBTQIA+ stories and stories of people of color. According to PEN America, of 1,648 titles banned in the 2021-2022 school year 41% contained LGBTQ+ themes or characters and 40% contained protagonists or secondary characters of color.
While the conversation about book banning is couched in the disguise of "parental rights", it is a small number of parents or parent groups (such as Moms for Liberty) who are driving these challenges. According to the Washington Post, 11 individuals are responsible for 60% of the book challenges filed nationwide in 2021-2022.
Book banning is about much more than removing books from public access, such as schools and libraries. It is about controlling the dialogue around political issues such as racial injustice, marriage and family equality, and even our own American history. This wave of censorship targets marginalized groups and is attempting to control the breadth of views allowed in public discourse.
As Martin Luther King, Jr. stated, "The arc of history is long, but bends towards justice." And it is our responsibility to seek that justice in any way that we can. We need to advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves, whether under threat of losing funding or jobs or simply unable to muster the forces to fight for their right to have a voice.
Rediscovered Books is wholeheartedly committed to fighting for everyone's right to read and for everyone's right to see themselves in books and stories at every age. We hope that you will join us this Banned Book Week and in the years that follow to make sure that all voices in Idaho and in the US are heard, recognized, and accepted.
Come in, buy a banned book, talk to our booksellers, and check out our resources on banning and censorship on our website. It will take all of us working together to protect the right to read.