|Weekly News Digest
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EveryLibrary Starts a Banned Book Store
EveryLibrary’s executive director, John Chrastka, announced via email that EveryLibrary launched an online marketplace—the Banned Book Store—which he calls “the most comprehensive store of currently banned and challenged books in the United States.” The funds it raises will help in EveryLibrary’s fight against book banning and its advocacy for libraries.
The books in the store are fulfilled via Ingram’s Aerio platform, and the title list comes from a range of sources, such as PEN America’s report on book banning, Dr. Tasslyn Magnusson’s banned-book spreadsheet, lists from ALA, and historically banned or challenged book lists.
Many of the book challenges come from individuals who have never read the books and who have been encouraged by national extremist organizations to present excerpts out of context to villainize and demonize librarians while building a case for horrific legislation that allows the government to bans books that don't agree with their current political ideologies.
According to [the] report by PEN America, book bans have targeted 1,145 unique book titles by 874 different authors, 198 illustrators, and 9 translators, impacting the literary, scholarly, and creative work of 1,081 people altogether.
These titles tend to have protagonists or prominent secondary characters who are people of color (41% of the titles), directly address race and racism (22%), and cover LGBTQ+ themes and/or have LGBTQ+ characters (33%). Children’s versions of biographies of prominent activists have been censored, including those of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez, Sonia Sotomayor, Nelson Mandela, and Malala Yousafzai.
Chrastka affirms that “exposure to a wide range of developmentally appropriate reading materials has significant benefits on the health, livelihood, and well-being of our nation’s children. Books help develop empathy for others. They help children imagine lives and experiences that are new to them or different than their own. In fact, a 2014 study found that children became more empathetic toward LGBTQ+ folks, immigrants, and refugees after reading Harry Potter, a story of a child who is different than his peers.”
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