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What Do We Do?: Supporting Children’s Right To Read

By Deanna Day, Washington State University, WA, and Barbara A. Ward, University of New Orleans, LA

The silhouette of a young boy with short cropped curly hair. Red streaks go horizontally across the cover over the silhouette, resembling blood and the stripes in the United States flag.In this column we continue to explore recent trends in censorship and book banning by highlighting how authors feel about their books being challenged. Additionally, we offer some ideas for classroom teachers interested in supporting children’s rights to read by teaching about censorship and book banning.

It isn’t just teachers, librarians, and school board members who are put into the position of defending certain books. The recent attacks on books featuring certain types of stories have even had a chilling effect on the publishing industry, with some publishing houses shying away from topics that might be deemed controversial. Many authors of children’s and young adult books are finding themselves on the defensive because their books have drawn negative attention from parents and community members. Author Jason Reynolds, who has written a number of books that have been challenged such as Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You (2020), a remix of the adult title Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America (2016) by Ibram X. Kendi and All American Boys (2015), cowritten with Brendan Kiely, emphasizes that limiting access to books limits kids’ curiosity and that banning books sends the message that kids shouldn’t ask questions. “Books don’t brainwash. They represent ideas,” he said. Continue reading

Authors' Corner

Author’s Corner: Jonah Winter

By Charlene Klassen Endrizzi, Westminster College, PA

Jonha Winter posing next to a zebra statue.Jonah Winter is an award-winning author of more than 40 picture books who currently resides in Pennsylvania, a state in which more than 450 books were banned in 2022, including Winter’s biography, Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx (2009). Book-banning is in the news these days, and another book by Winter made the news in Spring 2023 when it was banned in Duval County, Florida–his biography, Roberto Clemente: Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates (2002). Speaking of Florida (second only to Texas in book banning), Winter’s biography Hillary (2016) was banned from two schools in Miami where he was scheduled to visit on his book tour in 2016. At each school, the principals prevented him from presenting his book. Continue reading