At 826 National, we believe that all students should have the opportunity to see themselves in the stories they read and write the stories that haven’t been told. Today’s banned books movement threatens students’ ability to do so.
In 2021, the ALA reported receiving the “most number of censorship attempts” – more than 729 attempted bans of nearly 1,600 individual books – since they started keeping track more than two decades ago. This is more than twice the reported figure in 2020. Even more alarming, the ALA reports that between 82 and 97 percent of challenges are never reported.
Book bans threaten not just the right to read diverse books and stories, but it prevents educators and caregivers from building on teachable moments. It further disconnects community members from one another. It prevents students from learning more about themselves and their world.
It’s a privilege to see your own experiences reflected back in a book – a privilege that we at 826 National believe all young people should have.
“Representation matters,” emphasized 826 National CEO, Laura Brief. “When young people do not see the full breadth of their community’s experiences reflected in books, movies, and in the news, it sends an isolating message that they’re trivial and alone in their experiences. Banning books creates a silent generation.”
During an 826 Network event, New York Times bestselling author George M. Johnson said, “I am not the first to have my experience. I was just the first person who got to tell it.” His YA memoir-manifesto, All Boys Aren’t Blue, is the number two most banned book in the country.
“826 works to disrupt this dynamic by publishing and amplifying student work,” Laura shared. “By ensuring that our students’ words reach every corner of the country, we can help them write their way to a brighter, more equitable future. A future that is loud and joyful and rich with stories.”
This week, we invite you to join us to celebrate the freedom to read and help fight against book bans. Throughout the week, we’ll be sharing resources from 826 Digital, the ALA, and Unite Against Banned Books. And we’ll be honoring banned writers and stories by participating in ALA’s “Dear Banned Author” letter writing campaign.
To learn more about the banned books movement and Banned Books Week, check out:
- ALA Banned Books Week
- Unite Against Book Bans:
- ALA’s Most Frequently Challenged Books List
- ALA’s Banned Books: Defending Our Freedom to Read by Robert P. Doyle
- “Book Ban Efforts Spread Across the U.S.,” New York Times
- “The rise in book bans, explained,” Washington Post
- “Book bans are on the rise. What are the most banned books and why?,” USA Today
To get involved, you can: