Book banning is a serious problem. It keeps us from reading some really good stories, and it limits our access to important information. As a member of the community, how can we advocate for banned books? Here are some of the best ways to help!
1. Keep Yourself Informed
If you want to fight book bans, first you have to know which books are actually banned! The American Library Association has a list of frequently banned or challenged books. If any of these seem interesting to you, give them a read! If they’re not at your local library, you can also submit a request for them to be purchased. Simply reading or requesting goes a long way for support because it shows librarians that people are interested in these books. This interest makes it more likely for libraries to keep banned books on their shelves
Another way to stay informed is to get familiar with your library’s collection development policy. These policies dictate what kinds of materials libraries acquire, which makes them crucial tools for fighting against bans or challenges. Many libraries have their policies available to the public, so it’s usually just a matter of visiting a library’s website or asking for a copy.
2. Report Instances of Book Banning
According to the American Library Association, only 3-18% of book bans or challenges are reported to the Office for Intellectual Freedom. Issues need to be acknowledged before they can be solved, but 82-97% of the time, they’re ignored. Organizations like the ALA, the National Coalition Against Censorship, and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund are the best resources to take advantage of. They have lots of experience fighting censorship, and they also provide a community of readers that will support libraries in whatever way they need. Reporting book bans or challenges also helps organizations update statistics that keep track of which books are challenged the most.
3. Get Involved
Getting involved in your community is one of the most direct ways to fight book bans, and there are many ways to do it! For example, starting a petition in support of a challenged book can show libraries just how many people care about it. By collecting signatures, you’re generating a concrete statistic that proves how important this book is to your community. If a challenged book receives this kind of overwhelming support, it becomes much easier to rethink these challenges.
Attending meetings is another way to get involved. This could be a school board meeting, a library meeting, or even a town hall meeting, depending on the issue. These are the people in your community who make decisions and get things done, whether that means banning a book or unbanning a book. In other words, these are the people in your community who need to hear you speak in support of banned books the most. Talking about the positive impact that a challenged book has had on you might just keep it on library shelves.
Writing to libraries, people on school boards, or people involved in local government is another great way to get involved. Similarly to attending meetings, writing letters or emails will let the people in charge of your community how you really feel about their decisions. Sending a letter or an email is a quick and easy way to fight against book banning. If you want to make this method even more effective, you can encourage friends to send letters, too.
4. Raise Awareness
Because most books are unbanned due to overwhelming community support, raising awareness is essential to fight censorship. Raising awareness can be simple. It can mean posting about a favorite banned book on social media or sharing it with a friend. If you want to go all out, you can look into starting a banned book club or hosting a banned book event at your local library or bookstore. Ultimately, the most important thing is to get the conversation about banned books going.
5. Support Authors of Banned Books
One of the most important ways to support banned books is to support the authors behind them. These authors pour their hearts into their books, so it must be difficult to watch those books get challenged or banned. If you have a favorite banned book, consider writing a letter to the author. Explain what you loved about the book and why their work is important and appreciated. When your work is constantly under fire, a little love can go a long way!
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