“If every individual with an agenda had his/her way, the shelves in the school library would be close to empty.”
― Judy Blume
Every year, there are dozens of challenges to literary works. If you are a student, educator, parent, author or librarian battling a censorship controversy, below are some resources for guidance:
Update: Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes offers help to those fighting against censorship. He released an important memo that states: “The removal of books from a school library can constitute an official suppression of ideas, in violation of the First Amendment.”
The EveryLibrary Institute posted the memo here: Utah AG Publishes Clear Guidance Protecting School Libraries From Censorship
Librarians: Establish Clear Policies
Libraries should have written and approved policies for collection development, circulation, and challenges. These policies can guide material selection as well as address any challenges that may arise. Helpful resources:
- ALA Library Policy Development (ala.org)
- How to Respond to Challenges and Concerns about Library Resources (ala.org)
- ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (ala.org)
- Freedom to Read Foundation (ftrf.org)
- Texas Association of School Boards: Differences Between Library and Instructional Materials (Download)
- Red Wine & Blue Community Inquiry of Library Content: Response Support (Download)
- The School Library Journal Censorship Tips Hotline (education.ky.org)
Be prepared. As an educator, it is important to align your book curation with the learning standards and curriculum. Show the importance of the books and how materials were selected to fulfill clear educational goals. Make note of a book’s reviews, awards, and recommendations by educational experts, and be ready to allow parents to opt their student out of reading a particular book. Helpful resources:
Establish clear policies. To avoid controversy, school boards need to be prepared to face challenges from parents and others in the community by creating a sound policy to handle such controversies. Helpful resources:
Take Action! Write to your local legislators about the power of intellectual freedom. Sign petitions and join groups on social media who are fighting back. Helpful resources:
- NCAC’s Book Censorship Action Kit – National Coalition Against Censorship
- How to Respond to Challenges and Concerns about Library Resources | Tools, Publications & Resources (ala.org)
- How To Fight for the Freedom To Read (msn.com)
- How To Fight Book Bans and Challenges: An Anti-Censorship Tool Kit (bookriot.com)
- Resources for Banned Books Week 2020 – NCTE (ncte.org)
- Red Wine & Blue Book Ban Busters
Visit and support your library. Check out books and request new books. It can be as easy as that! Show your appreciating. Write a letter telling your library you value their commitment to attaining material that supports the diversity of your community and world. Helpful resources:
- 10 Easy Ways You Can Support Libraries During National Library Week (bustle.com)
- Get Involved | Advocacy, Legislation & Issues (ala.org)
- How to Support Your Library with These 10 Easy Actions (bookriot.com)
- Banned Books Week Suggestions (ala.org)
Online Educational Resources:
- NPR: Jason Reynolds: How Can We Connect with Kids through the Written Word? (npr.org)
- We Need Diverse Books (diversebooks.org)
More About Listed Resources:
Established in 1967, the Office for Intellectual Freedom is charged with implementing ALA policies concerning the concept of intellectual freedom as embodied in the Library Bill of Rights, the Association’s basic policy on free access to libraries and library materials. The goal of the office is to educate librarians and the general public about the nature and importance of intellectual freedom in libraries.
NCAC has been battling censors and book-banning advocates for over 40 years. They are here to support you can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. NCAC works with teachers, educators, writers, artists, and others around the country dealing with censorship debates in their own communities. It educates its members and the public at large about the dangers of censorship, and it advances policies that promote and protect freedom of expression and democratic values. NCAC’s Kids’ Right to Read Project (KRRP), a key initiative of its Youth Free Expression Program, is a unique advocacy project that works at the grassroots level to protect students’ right to read in schools, libraries, and bookstores across the country.
The NCTE supports intellectual freedom at all educational levels. An 80,000-member organization devoted to improving the teaching and learning of English and faced with challenges to teaching materials or methods, the NCTE offers support, advice and resources to teachers and schools faced with challenges to teaching materials or methods. The NCTE has developed a Statement on Censorship and Professional Guidelines in recognition that English and language arts teachers face daily decisions about teaching materials and methods.
The Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF) is a non-profit legal and educational organization affiliated with the American Library Association. FTRF protects and defends the First Amendment to the Constitution and supports the right of libraries to collect – and individuals to access – information.
This hotline allows library professionals to report censorship attempts anonymously. The hotline form asks for name and email (both optional); the library/school district, and state; and a comments field: “Tell us who is behind the objection—parents, school board members, or other parties—and how the district/library responded. Was challenge policy followed? Let us know anything else relevant.”
We Need Diverse Books is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and a grassroots organization of children’s book lovers that advocates essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.
Red Wine & Blue Education Funds in Coalition with PEN America, Race Forward & Others is mobilizing hundreds of thousands against attempts to ban books in public schools & their libraries.