National Library Week: Right to Read Day

Black background with yellow, orange, red and tan text saying "Right to Read Day April 24, 2023" bleow is grey text saying "Protect your Freedom to Read"

Today is the first day of National Library Week, and in the wake of the horrible attempts at censorship that have been spreading all over the country, the American Library Association has dubbed it the “Right To Read Day“. It is a day of action, and there are a number of actions you can take at that link, with resources and tips on how to do them. The first one is to of course, read a banned book. But I say go one step further, and request a banned book at your local or school library. Usage statistics can keep books on shelves it’s true, but requests are even more powerful because they are a direct way of saying “We want you to stock this book” from the community. Not every request is honored of course, librarians still use their professional judgement (we do have that you know) to determine what books belong in the collection and which don’t. But librarians like to connect people to the books they want to read. Our whole purpose is getting books into the hands of people. So, find a book on the Banned Book List that appeals to you and isn’t at your local library, and put in a purchase request!

If your library has all the banned books because you live somewhere where librarians aren’t being threatened and fired for putting books on shelves, then that’s great! Read one of the ones on the list, give those books some usage statistics and thumb your nose at the fascists who want to curtail your right to read whatever you want.

I am extraordinarily lucky in that I live in a pocket of liberal sanity in Florida so all 10 of the books on the top 10 most banned books list are in my library. So I’m going to read one. I’m choosing to listen on audio-book for the purposes of getting through it quickly (I have a long commute to work so I often listen to things like podcasts or audio books). I’ve decided to read “All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M. Johnson because I’ve already read Gender Queer this year, and I’ve heard a lot about Johnson’s memoir. I’ve been on a bit of a memoir kick lately, especially queer memoir. So All Boys Aren’t Blue fits right in there!

There were 1,269 attempts to ban or restrict library materials across the nation last year, most of them featuring either LGBTQ or POC characters. This is nothing short of an attempt to rewrite the world into the form that the fascists want. But we are not erasable. Queer, POC, disabled people are here, we exist, and we will continue to exist no matter what the fascists try to do. We will not go away, we will not be driven underground again, and we will continue to speak up, make noise, and make art. We will continue to share that art, widely and freely, because that is how art is supposed to be enjoyed.

Tell me in the comments what book you are reading this week, and why its important to be shared! And be sure to share today’s call to action everywhere you can, because only by coming together and fighting back can we keep the fascists from taking over our school and library boards and restricting what we are allowed to read and talk about.

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