“Banning books is just another form of bullying. It's all about fear and an assumption of power. The key is to address the fear and deny the power.”
- James Howe
Banned books week is here! As an avid reader, it's one of my favorite weeks of the year. As an author, it's a week of intentional advocacy. As a publisher, this week is just as important as any book launch we might have.
Banned books are often filled with messages that challenge the status quo and reflect a world where the greatest part of our humanity shines. While it might feel a bit uncomfortable for some to read about perspectives that don't align with who they are, imagine a world where your lived experience aligns with the content that people and organizations are attempting to ban. What message is being sent? It's never "just a book," that's being banned. In attempting to keep others from reading a book, they're attempting to restrict access to information that might change hearts and minds. They're wielding fear as a tactic to manipulate and control in an effort to retain the perceived power they think exists.
Here's the thing about power though, it only exists where we grant it. You can only have power and control if I believe it belongs to you and willingly modify my behavior to reflect that. This type of passive fear only becomes real when we allow a narrative to continue to grow wings. It's fed by the "what ifs" that are filled with negative outcomes.
But what if something better comes as a result of reading this book that you're so afraid of?
That's their greatest fear. Once you realize that you control your body and mind, and once you understand that their perceived power is only an illusion that exists when we silently cower to their demands, that's when the curtain is pulled back on their wizardly scheme. They're exposed. The emperor has no clothes. That perceived power truly belongs to you - when you own it.
The American Library Association has pulled together some dynamic resources for Banned Books Week and I'm including them as a reference below. Please consider donating to their efforts to continue this great work.
Be sure to visit their website for more resources to support this vital work.
From the ALA:
"Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to read and spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. For 40 years, the annual event has brought together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular. The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted for removal or restriction in libraries and schools. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.
In a time of intense political polarization, library staff in every state are facing an unprecedented number of attempts to ban books. ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 729 challenges to library, school and university materials and services in 2021, resulting in more than 1,597 individual book challenges or removals. Most targeted books were by or about Black or LGBTQIA+ persons.
The theme for Banned Books Week 2022 is "Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us." Sharing stories important to us means sharing a part of ourselves. Books reach across boundaries and build connections between readers. Censorship, on the other hand, creates barriers. Banned Books Week is both a reminder of the unifying power of stories and the divisiveness of censorship, and a call to action for readers across the country to push back against censorship attempts in their communities."
We've been intentional about advocating for Banned and Challenged books in the past, but this year we're definitely more visibly vocal. When we allow ourselves to be seen and heard, we bring greater attention and awareness to the importance of all voices and stories. Collectively the fight against censorship can press forward as we defend the right for all Americans to read, and perhaps the best part - that perceived power stays remains within each individual. Thus, we become a more empowered, human-centric culture that acts with love instead of fear. Ripples of change can start with you.
I'd love to hear from you! If you opt to email me, you also grant access for me to share the email I receive with others.
Pssst...learn more about our recently banned book. Click on the photo below for details...