Banning books helps politicians but hurts students

But no, it’s not the 1950s or 1960s. It’s 2022 and our “leaders” are trying to ban books. Where is upset from the people who were so frightened when they thought that Dr. Seuss’ books were banned? In fact, they only stopped the reprint of six of his books, a decision made by the publisher.

Where is the contempt for cancellation culture now that LGBTQ books are now being targeted? Georgia students like James Liming, mentioned in AJC history, make connections in books and find the windows and mirrors that Rudine Sims Bishop, an early champion of multicultural children’s literature, talks about in her essay “Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors. “

Bishop, Professor Emeritus at Ohio State University describes in the famous essay books that reflect the reader’s experience as “mirrors” and books that provide an insight into another’s experience as “windows.” “Sliding Doors” gives the reader a chance to enter another world and become a part of the story. These books save lives. Librarians are saving lives, and now all this is being threatened by people trying to guarantee their re-election.

The same people do not want us to teach black history in school. They use words like “critical race theory”, “woke up” and “ban books” to inflame their base. As a school librarian, I always ask my students, “Have you read the book?” I have to ask these people the same thing. Have you read the books?

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Cicely Lewis, school librarian at Gwinnett County’s Meadowcreek High School in Norcross, created Read Woke, a program in which students explore literature that challenges social norms. Her program has received worldwide recognition and is now used in many schools. (Courtesy of Cicely Lewis)

Credit: Cicely Lewis

Cicely Lewis, school librarian at Gwinnett County's Meadowcreek High School in Norcross, created Read Woke, a program in which students explore literature that challenges social norms.  Her program has received worldwide recognition and is now used in many schools.  (Courtesy of Cicely Lewis)
caption arrowCaption

Cicely Lewis, school librarian at Gwinnett County’s Meadowcreek High School in Norcross, created Read Woke, a program in which students explore literature that challenges social norms. Her program has received worldwide recognition and is now used in many schools. (Courtesy of Cicely Lewis)

Credit: Cicely Lewis

Credit: Cicely Lewis

I guarantee the answer is no. Like I say to my students, if you have not read the book, then how can you be a part of the discussion? Do lawmakers really think a ban on books will stop our young people seeking and looking for information? Well, they must not have heard of the internet.

As a mother and educator, I know that the fastest way to get a child to do something is to tell them that they can do nothing. As the School Librarian of the Year 2020, I know that I have a responsibility to say something because I have committed myself to ensuring that students have access and that their intellectual freedom is secured. I will not be silent during this time. As Zora Neale Hurston said, “If you’re silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”

I do not want to live in fear. I will continue to fight for the intellectual freedom of my students and my children. I will continue to distribute and donate books at every opportunity I get. I will continue to fund grants for teachers who use my nonprofit organization so that they can continue to educate our children so that they can be compassionate citizens and informed citizens.

I want to give scholarships to students who read books and make changes in their community. Our young people are watching, and what we are doing now matters. In AJC history, former state school superintendent John Barge said schools are not the place to “talk to kids about, you know, they can be whatever gender they want to be.”

Do you think books are the reason a child is transgender or gay? Do you think a ban on these books will prevent us from having transgender children? If you do, then go back to school.

These books are necessary to help students understand the situation of others and learn more about themselves in the process. Schools are NOT the site of gun violence, but far too many people would rather focus their energy on banning library books than enacting laws to help stop school shootings.

I encourage everyone to write to your local leaders and let your voice be heard. We need more voices for our children. Teachers have been targeted during the pandemic, and now leaders want to be able to prosecute school librarians. This needs to stop and we need to do something now before it’s too late. For those of you who do not think this problem applies to you, just wait. Because they want to use this to ban books on the Holocaust, books on slavery and books on racism.

Please:

• Write to your local leaders about the importance of intellectual freedom

• Donate to organizations that provide access to books

• Sign up for the PTA

• Voice

Buy books and gift books for the young people in your life

Unless we speak out and let our voice be heard, this is the beginning of a story that will not have a happy ending.

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