According to a new report published by PEN America, the “2022-23 school year has been marked to date by an escalation of book bans and censorship in classrooms and school libraries across the United States.” PEN America has tracked “1,477 instances of individual books banned, affecting 874 unique titles,” during the first half of this academic year. That marks an increase of 28 percent compared to the prior six months, January – June 2022.” The book bannings are taking place in conservative-leaning states (mainly, Texas, Florida, Missouri, Utah, and South Carolina), and overwhelmingly, they’re targeting “stories by and about people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals.”
Fortunately, American public libraries are pushing back. As mentioned last summer, the Brooklyn Public Library launched Books Unbanned. This initiative provides American students, no matter where they live in the U.S., free access to 500,000 digital books, including books banned by students’ local libraries. And now the Seattle Public Library has joined the effort, rolling out its own version of Books Unbanned. “We believe in your right to read what you want, discover yourself and form your own opinions,” writes the library. “Teens and young adults ages 13 to 26 living anywhere in the U.S. can access our entire collection of e-books and audiobooks.” To get started, students can fill out the form at the bottom of this page (click here), and then explore these curated lists of banned non-fiction books and banned fiction books.
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