Banning books and intellectual freedom is not new. The resurgence in book bans is new. The American Library Association, (ALA) tracks these efforts. In 2021, the ALA recorded 729 books being challenged which targeted 1,597 titles. ALA reports this is double the number of challenged books in 2020. These censorship tactics are aimed at suppressing public school and library access to books about racism, sexuality, and gender identity. The increase in censorship around the country inspired the Placer Action Network, (PAN) to fight book bans by encouraging readers to buy banned books.
“It is ironic and sad that a country which espouses liberty and justice for all would tolerate censorship and attempts to hide historical facts from students. We decided to turn our outrage into a message of support for both intellectual freedoms, and the support of candidates who respect those freedoms,” said Ellen Debach-Reilly, 2022 PAN President.
The efforts to ban books are specifically targeted to books and resources about the lives of those who identify as gay, queer, or transgender, or stories of Black, Indigenous or people of color.
The PAN book bags are ready in time for Banned Books Week, September 18-24, the annual celebration of the freedom to read. The week is sponsored by book publishers, library organizations, journalists, and the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.
PAN Past President and former educator, Barbara Smith helped to create the book bags. “I consider the book bans a concerted effort to dumb-down our future generations. Imagine the educational harm being caused because a comprehensive education has been hijacked by political attempts to hide facts. It is outrageous,” said Smith.
To take a stand against the book bans, PAN banned book bags are available online at: https://forms.gle/G7tpqudVkodeFBiE7 and proceeds will be donated to efforts toward preserving democracy and democratic principles.