Let America Read is a new freedom of expression initiative launched in response to legislators in Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Texas, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and Missouri, who have passed or are currently passing laws to ban certain books in schools. PEN America defines a school book ban as, “any action taken against a book based on its content and as a result of parent or community challenges, administrative decisions, or in response to direct or threatened action by lawmakers or other governmental officials, that leads to a previously accessible book being either completely removed from availability to students, or where access to a book is restricted or diminished.”
According to the American Library Association (ALA), school and public library book bans hit an all-time high in 2022. (ALA has been tracking this data for approx. 20 years) Last year, 2,571 books were targeted for some kind of censorship, which is an increase from 2021’s 1,858 banned titles. Books that are currently on the chopping block include, The Diary of Anne Frank. Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.
Let America Read is spearheaded by several celebrities including, Julia Roberts, Sasha Alexander, Andy Cohen, Chloë Grace Moretz, Selma Blair, and Julianna Margulies. “History is clear: good ideas are strengthened through contest, as governments are through debate. Since time immemorial, book banning has been the refuge of leaders who fear that their arguments and writs cannot withstand scrutiny. Its violence is born of weakness. And we are not a weak people – fighting book bans is an act of patriotism and a show of strength,” stated Emmy Award-winning actress, Julianna Margulies as reported by Deadline.
The aim of this project, like other ongoing initiatives, is to increase awareness around the spread of book bannings happening in the U.S. and around the world. As we wrote about in August 2020, Author Nora Roberts donated $50,000 to the Patmos Library in Jamestown MI, after 84% of its public funding revoked by the community due to having specific LGBTQ+ books available for readers. According to WDET, “The vote occurred after parents raised concerns about a book located in the adult graphic novel section.”
CAA Foundation Executive Deborah Marcus shared with Deadline, “This current wave of book banning in the U.S. is an issue that we all need to be deeply concerned about. Librarians and teachers across the country are being targeted, threatened, and fired for putting books on shelves that are age-appropriate, historically sound, and reflective of society during the time periods in which they were set. The bans and these tactics pose a direct threat to the health of our entire educational ecosystem and to our democracy.”
The campaign is requesting that people to choose a book from PEN America’s banned book list and to post a video at LetAmericaRead.org including the tags @LetAmericaRead, highlighting why that title is meaningful to them and why it should be protected.
An avid book reader and proud library card holder, Angela is new to the world of e-Readers. She has a background in education, emergency response, fitness, loves to be in nature, travelling and exploring. With an honours science degree in anthropology, Angela also studied writing after graduation. She has contributed work to The London Free Press, The Gazette, The Londoner, Best Version Media, Lifeliner, and Citymedia.ca.