While book banning is not new in the United States, it is happening at alarming rates in school libraries across the country right now.
The communities we serve through Raising A Reader (RAR)—from rural to suburban to urban—are not monolithic. One of our top priorities is to offer a diverse and inclusive multilingual book collection that is inclusive of all readers.
We believe having access to diverse and inclusive books opens avenues for learning and engagement across lines of difference and offers a powerful opportunity to create shared understanding and empathy around ideas and issues.
Banning books contributes to the further minimization of important issues that many children and families face, including people of color, LGBTQAI+, and disproportionately marginalized communities.
Books are mirrors, windows and sliding doors. We want all children to be able to see themselves in books and experience other cultures, backgrounds and lived experiences. We want all families to celebrate reading together and promote open access to ideas, both of which are keys to raising a reader.
While decisions on which books stay on the school library shelves is largely a local matter, removing a book based on its content could be a violation of the First Amendment.
In the 1982 case, Board of Education, Island Trees Union Free School v. Pico, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that students have the same First Amendment rights as anyone else in school libraries, and that “local school boards may not remove books from school library shelves simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books.”
At RAR, we see book banning as a form of censorship and a troubling retreat from America’s historic commitment to First Amendment rights, that protect students’ rights to receive and express ideas.
Raising A Reader’s three programs offer a variety of book collections that are selected at the local level by RAR partners to suit the “windows and mirrors” for the families they serve. The Classic book bag model offers 3-4 high quality multicultural children’s books in each bag that are rotated on a weekly basis.
Our FSRP and SSLA programs offer 4-6 high quality multicultural children’s books for families to share. Families have the freedom to share specific books—or all of them with their children.
We will continue to support choice in books by our community partners through RAR’s programming and will continue to champion books that are representative of the many diverse cultures, races and genders of the children and families we work with.