Last updated on February 14, 2023
Thick smoke billows into the sky, filling the air with ash. Books are tossed into hungry fires and burned. The day is May 10, 1933, when university students across Germany burned over 25,000 books (PBS). Book burning was featured prominently during the Holocaust, over 80 years ago, but a similar practice emerges today, book bans. PEN America states, recently “bans occurred in 138 school districts in 32 states. These districts represent 5,049 schools with a combined enrollment of nearly 4 million students.” These millions of kids are losing vital knowledge, exposure, and resources because adults have decided that the books are too “critical” or “offensive” for students to view.
Adult representatives are choosing what students should be exposed to based on their own unique belief systems. In 2019, students made up only 1% of the people attempting to ban books thought to be “inappropriate” for student utilization (American Library Association). Students are developing an understanding of history and life based on the books they read. Why should one adult, parent, administrator, etc., decide how an entire generation perceives the world? Kristen Mei Chase of The Washington Post writes “as a biracial Asian American mother raising multiracial kids, two of whom are LGBTQ, I will do whatever I can to make sure they see themselves in the books at their schools. I want my children to read a variety of books to both see themselves in literature, and to see how others live, and how the world actually works. I want books to challenge them. I don’t want their books to be challenged.”
A state legislator in Texas produced a list of more than 850 books that he contended may cause students to feel “discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress” because of their race or sex. A Dallas Morning News review found 97 of the first 100 books on the list were written by People of Color, women, or LGBTQ authors (BBC News).
There has been a significant increase in book banning this year as a backlash against Critical Race Theory, also known as CRT. CRT is a legal theory that highlights how structural racism exists in laws and policies. This is a large problem that is starting to endanger the entirety of the new generation.
Organizations such as the African American Policy Forum (AAPF) and the Transformative Justice Coalition (TJC) are fighting against book bans by spreading information about the problem and mobilizing voters #IReadBannedBooks. You have the power to push back against adults limiting your perspective. You can fight for your right to read and learn what you want. You can change the world!
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