Defend the Right to Read: Resources for Opposing Book Bans

Here are some resources for supporting public libraries and defending everyone’s right to read freely. I assembled them for the “Censoring Children’s Literature” class I taught last semester, and am sharing them now in connection with the Modern Language Association panel “Drag Queens, Stories about Black People, and Other Dangers,” held in the Liberty Room of Philadelphia’s Marriott Hotel on Saturday, Jan. 6th, 2024 at 10:15 am. The panel features:

  • Philip Nel (moderator, a.k.a. me), University Distinguished Professor at Kansas State University. Here are some of my thoughts on book bans (Geschichte der Gegenwart, 2023) and cancel culture (Washington Post, 2021).
  • Francesca López, Waterbury Chair in Equity Pedagogy and Professor of Education at Penn State University & author or co-author of several books, the most recent of which is Critical Race Theory and Its Critics: Implications for Research and Teaching, co-written with Christine E. Sleeter (Teachers College Press, 2023).
  • Ian Morrison, a.k.a. Brittany Lynn, the founder and head of the Philly Drag Queen Mafia, and the founder of Drag Queen Story Time. For her efforts in using Drag Queen Story Time to educate families in and beyond Philadelphia, Brittany was in 2019 named “Community Builder of the Year” from Philadelphia Family Magazine.
  • Torrey Maldonado, teacher in New York City public schools (for nearly 25 years), and is the author of several popular novels for young readers, including What Lane? (2021), which was cited by Oprah and the New York Times as an essential book to discuss racism and allyship. His novel Tight (2019) won the Christopher Award and was an NPR Best Book of the Year and Washington Post Best Book of the Year.



I’m including these here because, though some are well-known (Moms for Liberty has become famous for quoting Nazi literature and threatening violence against its opponents), others sound quite innocuous. However, all of these groups harbor authoritarian intentions. So, to supporters of democracy, diversity, and human rights: please take note.

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