I’m among millions of parents all over the country concerned about widespread efforts to ban “controversial” books in our public libraries. Especially when the lists include some of our favorite books, and plenty of them are not “controversial” by any stretch of the imagination, considering it’s 2022, not 1952.
So all of us here are standing up and cheering for the Brooklyn Public Library for launching a #BooksUnbanned initiative, which allows teens anywhere in the country to apply for a no-cost Brooklyn library card and access their entire collection of ebooks and audiobooks, totally free.
It’s all inspired by the Freedom to Read statement from the American Library Association, which starts by explaining that the freedom to read is essential to democracy.
Can I get a slow clap for the librarians who quietly outwit fascists and still show up to read Bear Hunt to our younger patrons at story time?
Pulitzer Prize winning graphic novel “Maus” by Art Spiegelman is one of the top banned US books.
You should read it — it’s wonderful.
According to the authoritarians who are trying to conduct these bans, “controversial” books includes books featuring LGBTQ characters, books about the Holocaust, books about Black American stories, and even silly books about butts. In other words, all kinds of award-winning, celebrated books that teach kids about diversity, inclusion, real US and world history, and yes, biology and human anatomy — pretty important stuff.
Oh yeah, and this book about babies. I mean…
In my own county in Tennessee, several outspoken parents have succeeding in temporarily banning Epic!, the favorite ebook app that kids are (or, were) allowed to access if they finish work early in class and have a little free time. So I wanted to make sure to spread the word as soon as I found out about this smart, subversive resistance effort from the Brooklyn Library, knowing kids in my very own community have been impacted.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas: Another outstanding book that’s required reading in lots of school districts, banned in others. Be sure to read it, it’s outstanding.
Bonus: The Brooklyn Public Library offers BookMatch teen, which allows teens to fill out a form describing what genre, style and authors they like, so that an actual librarian or a knowledgable volunteer can match them with a book they’re sure to love. The Brooklyn Public Library has even compiled a list of frequently banned books to get kids started — because what better way to get teens to read a book, than by telling them that they can’t.
Not all heroes wear capes; some wear sensible sweaters and wield card catalogues.
Young people ages 13-21 can apply for free Brooklyn Public Library e-cards 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 channels.
Ed Note: If your community is trying to ban books in your schools or public libraries, please contact the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom. This trend toward authoritarianism needs to stop. Now.