Time: 4:30 – 5:30 p.m.
Location: Stafford Reading Area, Waidner-Spahr Library
Since 1982, the American Library Association has been tracking book bans and challenges in both school and public libraries. Book bans in the United States are not new, but starting in 2021 book bans and challenges, especially in K-12 schools, increased in striking numbers. Prior to this time, concerns over content in libraries would be brought to light by individual parents concerned about what their child was reading. However, the current wave of challenges is now organized by groups of parents, rather than individuals, and not only that, but they are also politicized.
Organizations like Moms for Liberty have a mission to ban books they deem inappropriate for school libraries. Many of these titles contain racial and LGBTQ+ themes. Diverse reading lists are weaponized; without ever reading these books in their entirety or at all, groups of parents go to their school board, demanding that these titles be removed from their children’s classrooms and libraries. This phenomenon did not happen in isolation or overnight. Conservative groups feel empowered by Florida’s governor—Ron DeSantis—and his hateful legislation such as the “Don’t Say Gay Bill” and the prohibition of the AP African American Studies course. Therefore, this wave of book bans is only one facet of the larger movement to attack marginalized communities and their experiences.
This salon will explore the politicized nature of book bans today. Participants will discuss why these organized, politicized book challenges are occurring, and what it means for the state of intellectual freedom in the United States. The discussion will be facilitated by Ella Layton ’26 and Susan Perabo, professor of creative writing, and is sponsored by the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues. Vice President & Dean of Student Life and Member of the Carlisle Area School Board, George Stroud, will also be in attendance to provide a local perspective.
Prior to the conversation, be sure to look over the following required prep materials in the order provided:
- “Banned in the USA: The Growing Movement to Censor Books in Schools,” Pen America at https://pen.org/report/banned-usa-growing-movement-to-censor-books-in-schools/
- “How a Book Ban Helped Us Find Our Voice” TEDxPenn at https://youtu.be/Jun1zNNe3dc?si=yMOxUYmD3V9sImH-
- “The Battle Over Book Bans Takes a Toll on Librarians and Comes at a Financial cost,” NPR at https://www.npr.org/2023/08/11/1193446007/the-battle-over-book-bans-takes-a-toll-on-librarians-and-comes-at-a-financial-co
Further Reading (recommended / optional):
- “Chapter One: Trusting the System” from Book Banning in 21st Century America (2015) by Emily J. M. Knox (download attached, full book available online via Dickinson College Library)
- “Silencing Stories: Challenges to Diverse Books” by Emily J.M. Knox in The International Journal of Information Diversity & Inclusion, 2019 (accessible with Dickinson login)