April 24th was Right to Read Day. In light of the doubling of book challenges and restrictions in the United States, it’s an important time for action. Fortunately, we can all take action 365 days a year to defend the right to read freely.
But what should you do if you’re not used to speaking up? Take some baby steps, and it will get easier! Here are a few suggestions taken from Danielle Borasky, VP at NoveList, to get you started:
- Borrow (and read!) a book that has shown up on a challenged books list. Even better if you borrow it from your local library — this will make sure your interest is tracked for those who make decisions about what to collect. ALA has a list of frequently challenged books.
- Read up on stories written by people from cultures that have tried to restrict reading. I'm currently reading the memoir Reading Lolita in Tehran by Afar Nafisi. Another classic is Fahrenheit 451. Try searching in NoveList from the library catalog for books with the subject “banned books” and you’ll find lots more ideas.
- Keep up with book challenges and show up if they are happening in your community. She recommends following@FreadomFighters on Twitter or the Instagram hashtag #FreePeopleReadFreely to stay informed.
- Write letters to elected officials against book challenges and about the importance of a community that reads freely. EveryLibrary compiles a helpful list of legislation of concerns. And here is a great letter template to use.
- Let your school district know that you WANT kids to be exposed to different ideas so they can learn to think for themselves. Here is a great guide about what to say when speaking to school leaders.
- If you’re in a position to choose books for a library or classroom or bookstore, be inclusive in your choices. Create a display featuring challenged books that helps to educate your community. Here is a flyer you could download and display.
- Share this information about what’s happening with your network of friends, parents, etc. Use your voice to inspire even more voices.