"It is easier to build a strong child than to repair a broken man." - Frederick Douglass

Book Bans Are Happening in Texas, Here Is Why

Book Ban
Courtesy of Ian Richards (Flickr CC0)

Book bans are happening in Texas, and here is why. First, a book ban is described as “any action taken against a book because of its content” because of challenges coming from families, parents, politicians, or community groups. During 2021-22, more than a thousand book titles have been banned. These book bans are because of a network of local political and advocacy groups that are against books with LGBTQ+ characters and plots, and books involving characters of color. Texas has ranked first among all the states that have banned the most books.

What Happens If More Books Are Banned?

This increasing movement of book bans has resulted in more students, especially young ones, having limited access to literature that shows diversity, democratic citizenship, complexities, different genders, etc. Book bans have been part of the national debate on critical race theory, and how racism is embedded in the country’s legal and structural systems. Many Texas schools do not get taught about racism and this is because conservative politicians and parents have got together to dismiss the duty of public schools to teach about inclusivity and equality.

How Is This Affecting the Authors Whose Books Are Getting Banned/Challenged?

A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group but are still available to read by the public or anyone interested in that book.  However, a book banning is the removal of those materials.  Challenges are an attempt to remove material from the library/public library or the school curriculum, thereby restricting the access of that book to others.  Due to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, students, and other concerned citizens, most challenges are unsuccessful and most materials are retained in the library collection and school curriculum, however that has not completely stopped the challenges from working and banning books.

So how do the Authors that specifically write about minority groups, LGBTQ+, and diversity feel? The School Library Journal says that they can’t help but feel “Shock, Sadness, and Anger.”

Book Ban
Courtesy of Areta Ekarafi (Flickr CC0)

A group of writers that feel particularly targeted by these conservative groups, parents, and companies are those who publish children’s books. For example, in October, a school district in Texas banned Jerrys’ Craft’s Newbery-winning book called “New Kidalong with its sequel, “Class Act.” “I was shocked,” Craft says. The book he least expected for it to be banned, after receiving nothing but love, and amazing feedback both critical and positive from his fans. He says “I have always thought of my books as fun, with family values and a lot of humor.”

Another example is Grace Lin, author of “A big Mooncake for Little Star who was shocked when she found out that her book was on a long list of “object-able materials” being taken off by the Central York School District board of education. She says “Out of all my books, this one was not one I feared this happening to. The book is very little controversial, the only political statement it makes is that an Asian Child can be the main character.”

Who Is Trying to Stop This?

PEN America a non-profit organization that focuses on literature and human rights to protect open expression in the U.S, and the whole globe has identified at least 50 groups working at a national, state, and local level advocating for books to be extruded from school learning plans and schools libraries. Some of these groups include Moms for Liberty which started in 2021. An example is, The Keller Independent School District which was one of the first to successfully remove “Gender Queer” from school libraries after a group of moms complained it was “pornographic.”

PEN America also found that 1,648 titles had been banned by schools. Of these titles, 40% of these books contain protagonists or prominent secondary characters of color, and another 41% that address LGBTQ themes or have protagonists or prominent secondary characters who are LGBTQ are also banned.

Pen America has also used the hashtag #Freethebooks on all kinds of social media including their website, TikTok, and Twitter.

Written by Adriana Castelan

Sources:

NPR: New report finds a coordinated rise in attempted book bans

The Texas Tribune: Texas has banned more books than any other state, new report shows 

SLJ School Library Journal:  Authors Share the Emotions Impact When Their Books Are Banned

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Ian Richards– All Creative Commons

Inset Image Courtesy of Areta Ekarafi – All Creative Commons

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