I am one of millions of parents across the country who are concerned about efforts to ban “controversial” books from our public libraries. Especially when the lists include some of our favorite books, and many of them aren’t “controversial” by any stretch of the imagination, given that it’s 2022, not 1952.
So, all of us here stand up and applaud the Brooklyn Public Library for launching a #BooksUnbanned initiative, which empowers teens anywhere in the country to request a free Brooklyn library card and access their entire collection of ebooks and audiobooks, completely free.
It’s all inspired by the American Library Association’s Freedom to Read statement, which begins by explaining that freedom to read is essential to democracy.
Can I get a slow applause for librarians who quietly outwit fascists and still show up to read bear hunting to our young customers at story time?
Related: Here’s the brilliant tip that got my kid to read more. And the books that helped.
Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel “Maus” is one of America’s most banned books.
You should read it, it’s wonderful.
According to authoritarians trying to enforce these bans, “controversial” books include books featuring LGBTQ characters, books about HOlocaust, books about black American stories, and even silly books about butts. In other words, all kinds of award-winning, famous books that teach kids about diversity, inclusion, real US and world history, and yes, biology and human anatomy — pretty important stuff. .
Oh yeah, and that baby book. I want to say…
Related: How Gen Z is reacting to banned books, intolerance and more
In my own county of Tennessee, several outspoken parents managed to temporarily ban Epic!, the favorite e-book app that kids are (or were) allowed to access if they finish their work early in class and have some free time. So I wanted to make sure I spread the word as soon as I found out about this clever and subversive resistance effort from the Brooklyn Library, knowing that children in my own community were affected.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas: Another outstanding book that must be read in many school districts, banned in others. Be sure to read it, it is outstanding.
Bonus: Brooklyn Public Library offers BookMatch for Teens, which lets teens fill out a form outlining the genre, style, and authors they like, so a real librarian or knowledgeable volunteer can match them to a book that they are sure to love. The Brooklyn Public Library has even compiled a list of commonly banned books to help kids get started — because what better way to get teens to read a book, than by telling them they can’t.
Not all heroes wear capes; some wear sensible sweaters and brandish card catalogs.
Young people between the ages of 13 and 21 can request free e-cards from the Brooklyn Public Library on the Brooklyn Public Library website. You can also donate to the #BooksUnbanned initiative to help continue their work and amplify the hashtag on your social media.
Note Ed: If your community is attempting to ban books from your schools or public libraries, please contact the ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom. This tendency towards authoritarianism must end. Now.