Dear Banned Author: A Letter to Jay Asher
The 2018 Banned Books Week (September 23-29) theme is “Banning Books Silences Stories” — a reminder to speak out against censorship. The Dear Banned Author letter-writing campaign invites readers to write to their favorite banned and challenged authors during the week, sharing how much their words have meant to them. Library leaders share their stories and letters in this Intellectual Freedom Blog series. Find more letters at #DearBannedAuthor.
The Office for Intellectual Freedom has been tracking challenges to Thirteen Reasons Why since it was published in 2007. As you know, you managed to make it to the top of the most challenged list again in 2017. Congratulations!
You may know this already, but I wanted to tell the story of a school district in Colorado. When your book was pulled off the shelf by a school official, it was school librarians who kicked up a fuss. They reminded everyone that there’s a process for thoughtfully reviewing a book. They reminded everyone that the book spoke to a real issue in schools, one worth talking about. School librarians rock!
Not only was the book promptly restored, the school went on to host a comprehensive list of resources about mental health and suicide prevention. I have no doubt that this proud stand for intellectual freedom not only fought back the forces of censorship. It literally saved lives.
Thank you for your courage, your compassion, and your persistence.
Jamie LaRue is the Director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom, and the Executive Director of the Freedom to Read Foundation. Author of The New Inquisition: Understanding and Managing Intellectual Freedom Challenges, he has given countless keynotes, webinars, and workshops on intellectual freedom, advocacy, building community engagement, and other topics. Prior to his work for OIF, Jamie was a public library director for many years in Douglas County, Colorado. Find him on Twitter @jaslar.