freedom to read, freedom to learn
It’s crucial now more than ever to champion education that is inclusive and honest and that promotes critical thinking. To strengthen our democracy, we must resist campaigns that aim to ban books and censor or silence social justice movements. Support young people’s freedom to read, learn and build a just future.
According to the American Library Association, there were at least 1,269 demands to censor books in 2022. Most of the books being banned today feature protagonists of color or titles that center the experiences of LGBTQ+ people. Fear and untruths typically fuel such anti-democratic efforts. People who are complicit in maintaining white supremacy are often deputized to block any semblance of progress by grabbing control over school boards or electing officials who wish to roll back laws that benefit all.
The current attacks on attempts to build a society where everyone is valued underscore the need to support children and families outside of school walls. Our collective responsibility is to uplift honest history, counter disinformation and engage our communities to serve all children.
Restricting the education of people, particularly Black, Indigenous and other people of color, has occurred throughout United States history, and the silencing of historically marginalized communities has been similarly entrenched in our systems. However, we have the power to course correct.
The following resources can help educators, caregivers and families advocate for children's right to safe, affirming and inclusive schools.
Censorship AND REPRESENTATION
Exclusion Is Unconstitutional
Acts of censorship in education perpetuated by a small group with concentrated power go against the principles outlined in the United States Constitution.
Building a Just Future
Four transgender high school activists courageously share their stories and explain how educators and allies can help them amid the hostile attacks on their human rights.
Resisting Dominant Narratives
Amid the hostile learning environment created by censorship and book bans, these LFJ book reviews encourage us all to keep reading—and writing—to counter the narratives that have historically excluded diverse perspectives.
Debbie Reese on Book Bans and Native Representation
Scholar Debbie Reese talks book bans and the fear of a just society.
Celebrating Banned Books Means Advocating for LGBTQ Texts
During #BannedBooksWeek, educators should look to the present as well as the past.
Humanizing Asian Americans in the Classroom Through Children’s Literature
Asian American stories are often absent from classroom libraries. In this article, one educator explains why this omission is so harmful—and recommends ways to fix it.
ADVOCATING FOR INCLUSIVE EDUCATION
Parents and Caregivers for Inclusive Education
Responsible parent and caregiver groups are focusing on children’s right to inclusive and equitable education—in direct opposition to politically motivated “parents’ rights” groups with discriminatory agendas that harm young people.
The Promise of Inclusive Education
Open The Promise of Inclusive Education configuration options
Inclusive education builds critical thinking—the intellectual tools for reflection, continuous inquiry, constructive dialogue and the possibility of changing one’s perspective—and is an essential lever for democracy.
Inclusive Education Benefits All Children
In confronting attacks on LGBTQ+ students’ rights to representation and safety in public education, we hold firm to creating inclusive and affirming learning spaces.
A Social Justice Book Study Group
Seeking to push fellow teachers’ thinking on social justice issues, this teacher and her colleague started a book study group. Here’s how they did it.
Arthur’s Gay Teacher and Other Stories Schools Won’t Tell
Local PBS networks’ refusal to air an episode of a children’s show featuring the marriage of two men speaks to a larger problem in our society—and our schools.
UPLIFTING HONEST HISTORY
The Power of Place: Art as a Tool for Social Justice
Alabama artists are depicting honest history and challenging historical invisibility—reshaping public narratives of justice in their communities.
‘Never Again’ Starts With Education
Mandating Holocaust education in U.S. public schools and simultaneously banning or censoring other “hard histories” is ineffective, disingenuous and further demonstrates the importance of teaching honest history.
Power of the Vote: Lifting the Veil of White Supremacy, From the Ocoee Massacre to January 6
Civics education must include complete, honest histories and encourage young people to use their right to vote.
Recovering and Teaching Local History
Local history has a profound effect on our communities. It’s up to educators to learn and teach students about the hard history in their own backyards.
Teaching Local History in Tulsa
The history of the Tulsa Race Massacre was buried for 100 years. Teachers are trying to change that.
Juneteenth Observances Promote ‘Absolute Equality’
At the birthplace of Juneteenth, residents urge us to engage with honest history to build a just society.
Preserving a More Honest History
Want to take a field trip to a historic home or plantation? Here’s how to choose one that honors the enslaved people who lived and worked there.
Partnering With Museums To Teach Honest History
Looking for support and solidarity in teaching honest history? Partner with a museum.
A Student’s Take on Sugarcoated History
This Black Alabama teen and her family had to fill the gaps in her education at home. Here’s her advice to teachers.
Using Inquiry To Teach Honest History
Use inquiry to teach honest history!
A Care Plan for Honest History and Difficult Conversations
A research-based approach for strategies of care that educators, parents and caregivers can practice when teaching honest history or engaging in difficult conversations.
The History of Whiteness and How We Teach About Race
In this Teaching Hard History podcast episode, historian Ed Baptist provides context on the creation and enforcement of a U.S. racial binary that endures today, as well as Black resistance as a force for political change. And Aisha White urges educators to ask themselves, “What did you learn about race when you were younger?” before they engage with children. She argues that self-reflection and ongoing education are vital tools to combat the fallacy of ignoring students’ racialized experiences.
To Counter Racist Violence, Teach Honest History
The Buffalo shooting is the latest iteration of this nation’s history of anti-Black terrorism.
The Problem With the “Disney Version of History”
We can celebrate Dr. King and interrupt the idea that our progress toward justice has been continuous and inevitable.
Rural Schools and Hard History
The rich history and diversity of rural communities have largely been erased. Appreciating both charts a promising path forward.
This film explores intersectioality in a powerful way, illustrating the beauty and conflict that can arise as we move between languages, places and societal expectations. Bibi, tells the story of a Latinx father and son who can talk about anything—but only in writing, in the letters they pass back and forth when conversation seems too much.
Teaching Hard History: American Slavery
In these short videos, historians and scholars explore the history of African and Indigenous enslavement in what is now the United States.
This film takes viewers to the very communities where heinous acts of violence took place, offering a painful look back at lives lost to lynching and a critical look forward.
One Survivor Remembers
This Oscar-winning documentary presents Gerda Weissmann Klein’s account of surviving the Holocaust as a child.
CALLS TO ACTION
Visit the American Library Association page Fight Censorship for additional resources and information.
RELATED EXTERNAL RESOURCES
This initiative by the Brooklyn Public Library provides resources to fight against book bans, censorship and political challenges that affect local libraries.
Freedom To Learn
The African American Policy Forum developed an initiative to oppose attacks, in the United States and elsewhere, waged on educational frameworks that address structural inequality, including intersectionality, critical race theory, Black feminism and queer theory.
Banned in the USA: Rising School Book Bans Threaten Free Expression and Students’ First Amendment Rights
In this resource, PEN America documents book bannings reported over a nine-month period (July 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022) and provides an analysis of their findings.
Banned & Challenged Books
Statistics and other resources from the American Library Association about banned and challenged books in the United States.