TIE Blog Content Centered on Book Banning and Censorship

Previously published TIE Blog content addressing the topics of book banning, and curricular restrictions

Black banner with yellow border reading "Right to Read Day"

April 24 kicks off National Library Week and marks one year since the American Library Association launched the Unite Against Book Bans campaign. To mark the occasion kicked off by Right to Read Day, the Toward Inclusive Excellence (TIE) team has collected some of our previously published content that addresses the topics of book banning and curricular restrictions.

Interviews and Podcasts

“The TIE Podcast Spring Semester Preview: A Conversation with Deborah Caldwell-Stone“

Feb 24, 2022

In the episode, Deborah sits down with TIE editor in chief Alexia Hudson-Ward to discuss the shocking increase in book banning and challenges across the United States in recent years. In addition to her roles outlined above, Deborah also serves as the secretariat for the LeRoy C. Merritt Humanitarian Fund, which supports library workers who are denied employment rights or discriminated against, placing her at the forefront of these challenges.

Through the course of the conversation, Deborah draws attention to highly coordinated efforts by groups attempting to impose their agenda on American schools and libraries by demanding the removal books from collections and syllabi that reflect the lived experiences of marginalized communities. These groups have launched several ongoing challenges to books about LGBTQIA individuals and, with backing from some politicians, have advanced more targeted attacks against Black authors who write about Black lived experiences, which they falsely believe perpetuate critical race theory.

[Read more here]

“In Dialogue with Dr. Rasul Mowatt and Dr. Davarian L. Baldwin on the History and Import of Black Studies”

March 8, 2023

TIE‘s inaugural “In Dialogue” feature, centering an enlightening discussion on the history and impact of Black studies, is now available as an audio podcast. In the episode, listeners will hear Dr. Rasul Mowatt, head of the department of parks, recreation, and tourism management at North Carolina State University, and Dr. Davarian L. Baldwin, Trinity College’s Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of American Studies, discuss the recent attacks on AP African American studies. They contextualize these attacks within the legacy of Black studies in the United States and speak more about how scholars and librarians can work to counter these attacks while also supporting vulnerable communities on campus.

[Read more here]

Blog Posts

“Book Banning Should Make You Mad as Hell”

September 22, 2022

Busts of three Black women against a beige background with a white amorphous shape

e dramatic increase in book banning and challenges from the previous year is not bubbling to the surface of our collective consciousness because of a few parents upset about certain content being shared with their school-aged children. There is a well-oiled machine behind book banning in the United States that is far reaching, heavily resourced and supported by various politicians at the state and federal levels.

A recently released report from PEN America outlines more coordinated efforts from at least 50 advocacy groups to censor and remove books on diverse topics and written by diverse authors from schools and libraries. Their report mirrors statements made by the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF) Executive Director Deborah Caldwell-Stone in a Toward Inclusive Excellence podcast. One incredible set of data outlines that approximately 1,648 titles have been banned at least 2500 times in more than 130 school districts (paywalled). The school districts cover over 30 states.

[Read more here]

“Students Lose Important Lessons with Book Bans and Curricular Restrictions”

April 6, 2022

Authored by Dunstan McNutt an Instruction Librarian at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga. If I were the only person feeling overwhelmed by the firehose of news and information we are faced with every day, the book I am currently reading, Stolen Focus by Johann Hari, would not have spent four weeks on the best seller list. But two stories have risen above the noise for me, namely challenged books in K–12 curricula and politically motivated curricular reform efforts up to the college level. In reflecting on why they have been on my mind, and why I am so angered by them, I find myself returning to some fundamental principles of librarianship and how they might help create a more inclusive educational environment.

[Read more here]

“Banning Books Is a Modern-Day American Horror Story”

December 30, 2021

The ongoing struggle in the US to protect people’s fundamental civil liberties and rights never ceases to amaze me. Banned Books Week is another important and timely reminder of how the right to read books remains one of the most contested activities in American culture. 

Every year multiple cases emerge of banned and challenged books throughout the country. What will not surprise TIE readers is that several of these banned and challenged books explore DEIA topics, illuminate the histories and lived experiences of marginalized people, and/or are written by authors of color, as author Ta-Nehisi Coates noted in a recent interview with “CBS Mornings.” It remains a head-scratching fact that works by Frederick Douglass, Toni Morrison, and Rosa Parks raise ire among some people, to the point that they insist on removing those works from libraries and school curriculums. 

[Read more here]

“The TIE Podcast Fall Session Preview: A Conversation with Martha S. Jones”

September 8, 2021

In this episode, TIE editor in chief Alexia Hudson-Ward speaks with Dr. Jones about her critically acclaimed book. Dr. Jones talks about voter rights and voter suppression efforts as companion stories in the US. She also recounts her experience of having her book banned by a Louisiana public library board. (Here’s ALA’s response.)

[Read more here]

Learn more about #RightToReadDay and and the actions you can take to support your library and defend the freedom to read in your community.

Read more Toward Inclusive Excellence blog posts!

Interested in contributing to TIE? Send an email to Deb V. at Choice dvillavicencio@ala-choice.org with your topic idea.

Header image is a detail of This is Harlem by Jacob Lawrence. Courtesy of Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. © 2021 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. For more information, click here.