Wednesday, October 04, 2023

Debbie--have you seen ALONE by Megan E. Freeman?

A reader submitted a comment to my open letter to Kate DiCamillo about Island of the Blue Dolphins, asking if I've seen Alone by Megan E. Freeman. 

Freeman's book refers to Island of the Blue Dolphins. I haven't seen it, but am glad to know about the book and plan to get a copy as soon as I can. 

Monday, October 02, 2023

House and Senate Resolutions Regarding Book Banning and Threats to Freedom of Expression in the US

On 9/27/2023, the US Senate introduced S.RES.372 (a resolution). You can read and track the resolution here. I'm pasting it below, as part of the record that AICL maintains. It specifically mentions Kevin Noble Maillard's Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story. The House has a similar resolution: H.Res.733. I maintain a log of Native-authored books that have been challenged or banned. As of today (Oct 2, 2023) there are 29 different books, many of them challenged or banned in more than one location. The 29 books are by 31 different Native authors and illustrators from 22 distinct Native Nations.


S. RES. 372

Expressing concern about the spreading problem of book banning and the proliferation of threats to freedom of expression in the United States.

September 27 (legislative day, September 22), 2023

Mr. Schatz (for himself, Mr. Reed, Mrs. Feinstein, Ms. Hirono, Mr. Wyden, Mr. Murphy, Mr. Merkley, Mr. Whitehouse, Mr. Booker, Mr. Cardin, Mr. Sanders, Mr. Durbin, Mr. Padilla, Mr. Markey, and Mr. Blumenthal) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary


Expressing concern about the spreading problem of book banning and the proliferation of threats to freedom of expression in the United States.

    Whereas the overwhelming majority of voters in the United States oppose book bans;

    Whereas an overwhelming majority of voters in the United States support educators teaching about the civil rights movement, the history and experiences of Native Americans, enslaved Africans, immigrants facing discrimination, and the ongoing effects of racism;

    Whereas, in 1969, the Supreme Court of the United States held in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, 393 U.S. 503 (1969), that students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate”;

    Whereas, in 1982, a plurality of the Supreme Court of the United States wrote in Board of Education, Island Trees Union Free School District No. 26 v. Pico, 457 U.S. 853 (1982), that schools may not remove library books based on “narrowly partisan or political grounds”, as this kind of censorship will result in “official suppression of ideas”;

    Whereas the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States protects freedom of speech and the freedom to read and write;

    Whereas Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”;

    Whereas PEN America has identified nearly 3,400 instances of individual books banned, affecting 1,557 unique titles from July 2022 through June 2023 alone, representing a 33-percent increase in bans compared to the prior year of July 2021 through June 2022;

    Whereas of the 2,532 bans in the 2021–2022 school year, 96 percent of them were enacted without following the best practice guidelines for book challenges outlined by the American Library Association, the National Coalition Against Censorship, and the National Council of Teachers of English;

    Whereas the unimpeded sharing of ideas and the freedom to read are essential to a strong democracy;

    Whereas books do not require readers to agree with topics, themes, or viewpoints but instead allow readers to explore and engage with differing perspectives to form and inform their own views;

    Whereas suppressing the freedom to read and denying access to literature, history, and knowledge are repressive and antidemocratic tactics used by authoritarian regimes against their people;

    Whereas book bans violate the rights of students, families, residents, and citizens based on the political, ideological, and cultural preferences of the specific individuals imposing the bans;

    Whereas book bans have multifaceted, harmful consequences on—

    (1) students, who have a right to access a diverse range of stories and perspectives, especially students from historically marginalized backgrounds whose communities are often targeted by thought control measures;

    Whereas classic and award-winning literature and books that have been part of school curricula for decades have been challenged, removed from libraries pending review, or outright banned from schools, including—

    (1) “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley;

    Whereas books, particularly those written by and about outsiders, newcomers, and individuals from marginalized backgrounds, are facing a heightened risk of being banned;

    Whereas, according to PEN America, 36 percent of instances of books banned or otherwise restricted in the United States from July 2021 to June 2023 have LGBTQ+ characters or themes that recognize the equal humanity and dignity of all individuals despite differences, including—

    (1) “And Tango Makes Three” by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell; and

    Whereas 37 percent of instances of books, both fiction and nonfiction, that have been banned or otherwise restricted in the United States from July 2021 to June 2023 are books about race, racism, or feature characters of color, including—

    (1) “The Story of Ruby Bridges” by Robert Coles and illustrated by George Ford;

    Whereas the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has reported a dramatic surge in challenges at libraries and schools to the inclusion of graphic novels that depict the diversity of civic life in the United States and the painful and complex history of the human experience, including—

    (1) “New Kid” by Jerry Craft;

    Whereas books addressing death, grief, mental illness, and suicide are targeted alongside nonfiction books that discuss feelings and emotions written for teenage and young adult audiences that frequently confront these topics;

    Whereas, during congressional hearings on April 7, 2022, May 19, 2022, and September 12, 2023, students, parents, teachers, librarians, and school administrators testified to the chilling and fear-spreading effects that book bans have on education and the school environment; and

    Whereas, according to PEN America, from July 2022 to June 2023, States across the country limited access to certain books for limited or indefinite periods of time, including—

    (1) Florida, where at least 1,406 books in total have been banned or restricted in 33 school districts;

Resolved, That the Senate—

(1) expresses concern about the spreading problem of book banning and the proliferating threats to freedom of expression in the United States;