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Sixth & I

If Books are Banned: Reading Between the Lines

Sep 28, 2023 • 7:00 pm ET
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A movement to ban books is sweeping the country and has gained increasing traction over the past few years. According to PEN America’s Index of School Book Bans, which “lists instances where students’ access to books in school libraries and classrooms in the United States was restricted or diminished, for either limited or indefinite periods of time,” there were 1,477 such instances in the first half of the 2022-2023 school year. The majority of books being targeted are written by Black and LGBTQ+ authors, feature LGBTQ+ characters or characters of color, and tackle themes of race, gender, history, and sexuality.  

Books reflect our diverse cultures, break down barriers, and help us to better understand ourselves and relate to others. Censorship impacts readers of all ages, teachers, librarians, authors, book publishers, and bookstores and threatens our freedom to read, learn, and express ourselves, as well as our democracy. 

Ahead of Banned Books Week, we’ll discuss the movement to restrict books, what’s at stake, and the effort to fight back. Panelists include PEN America Washington Managing Director Nadine Farid Johnson, author and journalist James Kirchick, and DC Public Library Executive Director Richard Reyes-Gavilan, in conversation with Laura Meckler, national education writer for The Washington Post and author of Dream Town: Shaker Heights and the Quest for Racial Equity. Following, award-winning drag queen Tara Hoot will read from a banned children’s book.