Freedom To Read, Freedom To Learn
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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, exclude participation and censor social justice in education.

May 3 is the Freedom to Learn National Day of Action. We encourage you to participate and support young people’s freedom to read, learn and build a just future.

According to the American Library Association, in 2023, more than 4,000 titles were targeted with demands for censorship, the highest number in more than 20 years of tracking this data. And PEN America found “3,362 instances of individual books banned, affecting 1,557 unique titles” in the 2022-2023 school year. Many of these books center the experiences and perspectives of LGBTQ+ people and Black, Indigenous and other people of color.

The current attacks on efforts 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 counter disinformation, uplift honest history and engage our communities to serve all children. We offer the following resources to help you learn more and advocate for children's right to safe, affirming and inclusive education.

[Updated May 2024]

Learning for Justice Resources

Cover of Issue 5 of Learning for Justice magazine.

Magazine, Guides and Frameworks

Learning for Justice Magazine, Issue 5, Fall 2023

To build an inclusive, multiracial democracy, civics education must tell an honest story about race and develop critical thinkers who can connect history and current events to engage in responsible democratic action. This issue explores the roles of civics literacy and inclusive education in developing the intellectual tools, knowledge and civic dispositions essential for democracy.

Advocating for Teaching Honest History: What Educators Can Do

Illustration of people looking over a book with historical figures and events represented.

Learning honest history—history that is accurate, comprehensive and inclusive of perspectives beyond traditional, dominant narratives—helps students to understand the forces that shape our world and to make connections between the past and the present. This guide offers resources and tools for teaching honest history and strategies for advocating for honest history education.

Teaching the Civil Rights Movement

Collage of various important Civil Rights Movement figures.

This framework centers Black Americans’ struggle, while pointing out the ways in which white supremacy was institutionalized—across multiple levels of society—to deny political, social and economic equality to Black people. By engaging young people in a more inclusive history and activist pedagogy, students can make connections between past and present, recognizing the relevance of history to today’s justice and civil rights movements.

THH Correct Image.

Teaching Hard History: American Slavery

Most students leave high school without an adequate understanding of the role slavery played in the development of the United States—or how its legacies still influence us today. In an effort to remedy this, we developed a comprehensive guide for teaching and learning this critical topic at all grade levels.

Featured Stories from Issue 5, Fall 2023

Illustration of various people looking down at the same spot with a mosaic of book covers behind them.

Exclusion Is Unconstitutional by Khiara M. Bridges
Acts of censorship in education perpetuated by a small group with concentrated power go against the principles outlined in the United States Constitution.

A Call for Anti-Bias Education by Erica Licht and Khalil Gibran Muhammad
To develop the next generation of civic leaders, educate children early and in age-appropriate ways about their identities and key concepts about race.

Why Civics Needs Social Justice Education by Lee Anne Bell
Social justice-oriented civics education is crucial for developing the civic knowledge, skills and dispositions people need to fulfill the potential of a multiracial and inclusive democracy.

The Promise of Inclusive Education by Gregory M. Anderson
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.

Parents and Caregivers for Inclusive Education by Maya Henson Carey
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.

Building a Just Future by Dorothee Benz
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.

Educating for Democracy by Anthony Conwright
Effective civics literacy develops critical thinkers who can connect history and current events to engage in democratic action in building an equitable and just society.

What Is Our Collective Responsibility When We Uncover Honest History? by Coshandra Dillard
Local history advocates say preservation, education and healing should include community redevelopment and respecting the agency of descendants of enslaved people.

Paving the Way to a Vibrant Multiracial Democracy: Q&A With Angela Glover Blackwell
Civics education that tells an honest story about race in our nation is essential for a strong, inclusive democracy.

A Time of Transformation and Possibility: Q&A With Margaret Huang
The United States has championed human rights around the globe but needs to consistently ensure those protections domestically.

Selected Articles and Resource Pages

Supporting LGBTQ+ Rights and Inclusion
This resource page provides information about inclusive practices that help LGBTQ+ children—and all students—to thrive.

Discuss Black History All Year Long
Black history is central to our nation’s story. Children deserve to learn this history in all its complexity—and in ways that are accurate, comprehensive and age appropriate. This resource page offers resources to uplift Black stories all year long.

Book Reviews for Children and Teens
Stories are a deeply meaningful way that we learn about the world, and they can build empathy and understanding of ourselves and others. This page offers some of our favorite book recommendations from our reviews that affirm identities, celebrate diversity and highlight justice.

Advocating for Honest History Education: A Resource for Parents and Caregivers
What is honest history, why is it essential for our democracy, and how can parents, caregivers and community members advocate for honest history education?

Understanding and Countering Antisemitism and Islamophobia in Schools
Amid a rise in antisemitism and Islamophobia, we all need to help ensure young people’s right to an education free from bigotry in an inclusive and supportive environment.

Acclaimed Documentary One Survivor Remembers Urges All to Never Forget
Survivor testimony provides a crucial way to learn about the Holocaust, understand the context, history and diversity of Jewish people, and address antisemitism in the world today.

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.

Celebrate African and Indigenous Cultures: A Resource for Parents and Caregivers
Conversations about African and Indigenous cultures are essential for learning about the history of our country and making connections with a broader world.

Talking to Children About the History of Slavery in the United States: A Resource for Parents and Caregivers
These recommendations for discussing the history and legacy of slavery and race with children also provide age-appropriate information to emphasize in conversations.

Debbie Reese on Book Bans and Native Representation
Scholar Debbie Reese talks book bans and the fear of a just society.

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.

Film Kits

Bibi, a film by Victor M. Dueñas

Charles Person: Freedom Rider Encourages Others To Get On Board
For the youngest of the original Freedom Riders who boarded buses in 1961, the quest for justice continues. This article includes a video link to our recent interview with Mr. Person.

This film explores intersectionality 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 | Classroom Videos
In these short videos, historians and scholars explore the history of African and Indigenous enslavement in what is now the United States.

An Outrage
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.

Webinars and Podcasts

Teaching Hard History podcast series
LFJ and host Dr. Hasan Kwame Jeffries brings us the lessons we should have learned in school through the voices of leading scholars and educators. This four-season series (with over 60 episodes) begins with the long and brutal legacy of chattel slavery and reaches through the victories of—and violent responses to—the civil rights movement to the present day.

Diversifying Classroom Texts
Join antiracist education experts and Learning for Justice for this thought-provoking webinar that highlights the importance of diversifying classroom texts.


Books Unbanned
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.

Fight Censorship
Additional resources and information from the American Library Association.

Books for All
This page from the New York Public Library urges visitors to “protect the freedom to read in your community.”

A map of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi with overlaid images of key state symbols and of people in community

Learning for Justice in the South

When it comes to investing in racial justice in education, we believe that the South is the best place to start. If you’re an educator, parent or caregiver, or community member living and working in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana or Mississippi, we’ll mail you a free introductory package of our resources when you join our community and subscribe to our magazine.

Learn More