Happy Birthday to Harper Lee, born on April 28, 1926, in Monroeville, Alabama! Lee’s name is inextricably linked with her first novel To Kill a Mockingbird which has been both celebrated and challenged since its publication in 1960. Throughout it all, Mockingbird and Lee have remained as a staple of literature and continue to be a springboard for discussing the history of racial tensions in the American South.
In a powerful memoir and manifesto, George M. Johnson’s All Boys Aren’t Blue has made waves since the book’s publication in 2020. With its accolades keeping pace with the number of states Johnson’s book has been challenged in, All Boys Aren’t Blue is a captivating, personal narrative told for those who have been erased—and continue to face erasure.
Today is bestselling author Simone Elkeles’ 52nd birthday. To date, she has penned 11 novels, including the award winning young adult Perfect Chemistry series. She is also a dog lover, former hockey and Girl Scout mom, and Chicago native living in Florida.
In 2017, Perfect Chemistry faced a book challenge at Academy School District 20’s Challenger Middle School Library in Colorado Springs. A mother of a 6th grade student found the book amongst her child’s things and, after reading the book, objected to its place at a middle school library due to profanity, alcohol use, gangs and gun violence, and sexual situations.
April 23, 2022 marks author Alex Sanchez’s 65th year on the planet. Happy Birthday, Alex Sanchez! Sanchez is a Mexican American author who has written the award winning young adult books Rainbows Boys and Getting It, as well as a middle grade novel So Hard to Say. Sanchez also collaborated with DC comics and illustrator Jul Maroh on You Brought Me the Ocean, which is a reimagining of the story of Aqualad for a modern teen audience. His most recent work The Greatest Superpower (2021) is about twin boys whose dad comes out as transgender. Thank you Alex Sanchez for writing books that affirm the experiences of young people and get them excited about reading!
Banned Books Week is September 18 – 24, 2022.
Books unite us. Books encourage boundless exploration and allow readers to spread their wings. Stories give flight to new ideas and perspectives. Reading—especially books that set us free—expands our worldview. Censorship, on the other hand, locks away our freedom and divides us from humanity in our own cages.
“I think people fail to realize how much hate is really an issue.” Read this interview with Jordan Joubert, student at North Hunterdon High School, New Jersey, who is currently engaged in speaking at board meetings, creating student-run organizations, and serving as a youth advocate in the face of censorship.
Despite efforts to keep a new generation of students from a transformative encounter with Morrison’s work, The Bluest Eye remains relevant and reflective of American society over 50 years after its original publication in 1970. This cultural relevance is the reason why it maintains its place on recommended reading lists for Advanced Placement assessments across the country. It is why the novel still brings me to tears, and still has important things to teach us about reckoning with racialized concepts like beauty and gender, and how ugliness renders one invisible.
In a year in which challenges to books in school and public libraries have become organized and a sad feature of political campaigns, awards to those fighting for the right to read become all the more worth celebrating. The Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT) presents three awards recognizing the commitment and strength of two very deserving leaders in that fight.
“The loudest voices often are the voices that are heard. And if there aren’t any voices to counter those loud voices, it’s easy for elected officials to assume that that represents a prevailing opinion.” OIF Director Deborah Caldwell-Stone. #UniteAgainstBookBans
Voters overwhelmingly agree: we need to protect young people’s ability to have access to books from which they can learn about and understand different perspectives, rather than protect them from books they might find upsetting. #UniteAgainstBookBans http://uniteagainstbookbans.org