In the News: A Pennsylvania School Bans a List of Books by Black and Latinx Authors
Edited to add this corrective note: Not all of the authors are authors of color, though all of the books are written by, illustrated by, or are about people of color or people involved in feminist and anti-racist work.
Also, there is a Central York Banned Books Club Twitter account you can follow: https://twitter.com/CYBannedBooks
Every once in a while, you hear about books being banned, typically from school reading lists or in school districts. The most typical reasons for books to be banned has to do with language, sex, drugs or, sadly, having LGBTQ content. You can find out more about challenged and banned books through the ALA (American Library Association) Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF).
I wanted to bring a recent book banning situation to all of our attention because it mirrors what we see happening in the largest scope of education. Last year, there started to be massive pushback against anti-racist education, particularly something called Critical Race Theory. It’s important to note here that Critical Race Theory is a specific application of legal scholarship that is taught at the university level. What is taught in our public schools is just history and the truth is, there is a lot of racism in the history of America and in all countries, honestly. Education Week has an article with more information on that here.
In October of last year, a list of books were banned in Central York, Pennsylvania, and among these books were books about Rosa Parks, Malala Yousafzai and even a book by Sesame Street. There were school board meetings and students protests but last week, the school board voted to uphold the ban.
You can find a complete list of the books being banned here: https://twitter.com/CYBannedBooks/status/1439754512995176450
It’s important to note that the list of books being banned are (mostly) all by Black and Latinx authors. Authors of color have fought long and hard to even get their books published and we are just now starting to see a bit more equity in publishing, it is heartbreaking and maddening to see schools banning these books for speaking the truth of racial injustice in the world.
We owe it to our kids to teach them the truth of history. It’s only in facing who we were that we can work to become a better version of ourself as a country. And clearly, it’s not even who we were, because we are clearly still fighting against racial injustice in the here and now. It’s not even about history, it’s about truth and the basic humanity of every kid who walks into our schools.
There are a lot of discussions about this happening out there. Here are some resources to check out:
A List of Articles Discussing the Issue: https://www.ydr.com/story/news/2021/09/14/books-and-other-resources-banned-central-york-school-board/8333108002/
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
SLJ Blog Network