ALA focuses on the books of Banned Books Week. Amnesty International focuses on people.
“Cancel culture” is becoming synonymous with fragility. Pundits increasingly resent when racial, cultural and sexual norms are enforced in public. They bemoan cancel culture as a form of censorship, despite the fact that no one has actually been “cancelled.” They grieve the loss of free speech when they’re merely being taught a lesson: there is currency in our words and the price paid is accountability.
Harry Potter is one of the most frequently banned series. J.K. Rowling doesn’t understand that when she silences the real, lived experiences of trans people, she is banning a narrative that is not only crucial to the feminist and social justice movement but to humanity as well.
The problem is not corporate censorship, it’s the idea that we can find all the reliable information we need on the internet with no guidelines or knowledge how to vet information or discriminate fact from fraud. Censorship becomes an issue when government entities start to take part – and this is why eliminating censorship within the construct of libraries is so important.
Child sex abuse is a serious problem but how do we talk to kids about it? How do we give children the tools and language to understand how to reach out if they are victims or if they know someone who is? There is no easy answer. One way that author Tony Abbot chose was the route of storytelling. Sharing stories can provide both a mirror and a window.
It’s hard to see how frequently parents have a problem with certain books because of their relationship to the female body. I feel disheartened when I see these types of concerns on such a regular basis – not just in the form of requests for removal, but in daily, casual conversations. It’s a challenge but luckily I also notice that these important discussions about double standards, body image and dangers of body shaming are happening more frequently.
It’s the right of any parent to determine the best time to talk about sensitive issues with their children but we need titles that talk about bodies from as young as pre-k picture books. It is up to the parent to determine what titles are appropriate for their children and this specific title is age-appropriate in the children’s section.
When I took my first job as a collection librarian, I assumed that most of the challenged books at public libraries fell into the familiar categories we see in the “frequently banned and challenged” lists that are featured during Banned Books Week: Harry Potter; Go Ask Alice; Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. I was wrong.