How to Talk About Book Bans

It seems that every day the news reports another school district or public library being inundated with demands to ban books. Looking back in history these moral panic waves hit every couple of decades, but their effects if successful last for a long time. Often it is a vocal minority that powers these attacks on the freedom to read. Yet, when it comes down to the facts, do a majority of people support ban books. The truth is clearly they do not.

According to United Against Book Bans, 71% of voters oppose banning books in public libraries and a similar 67% oppose it in schools. The problem is that most people don’t realize the underlying negative impacts that book bans have on minorities and other targeted groups. How do we reach out to the silent majority who oppose book bans to educate and activate them on this important issue?

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Kelly Jensen writing for Book Riot recently authored an article titled: How to Talk about Book Bans with Friends, Library Patrons, and More. In the piece she provided helpful tips to encourage supports to speak out against book bans. For friends she suggests a few things including:

Share data, statistics, and research as much as you do the terrible and/or click-y stories about the absurdity of certain challenges. It IS ridiculous that books about sports heroes were banned in a Florida school district. But what is also absurd and far more actionable is noting that book bans are extremely unpopular with the public (research) and that when given the choice to opt their kids out of school library materials, it is the smallest minority of parents who do (research).

When talking to library patrons, she suggests many approaches, including sharing widely when a book challenge takes place:

If your library is dealing with a book challenge, make sure your power users know that they need to attend the board meeting and/or submit a letter in support of the book. As noted in the previous section, use the data, research, and statistics to back up the need for the library to include materials for all.

Read the rest of the article on the Book Riot website.

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