We have been challenged. By year, by circumstance, by the very basics of our educational system. The ABC's and 123's. We are writers and we live in a time where books are disappearing out of classrooms and history is being edited for content.
October 7, 2023 marks the end of banned book week. It is also the day that LeVar Burton calls "Let Freedom Read" Day. The challenge is to do one thing that fights censorship. Read a banned book, talk to your local librarian, check in with teachers at your local school, attend a school board or town hall meeting.
Write your legislative representatives, even if you don't have a law allowing the banning of books in your state or schools, your letters matter. Your vote matters. For every letter written to a lawmaker, there are thousands that stay silent. A written opinion holds more weight than merely your own because politicians know that not everyone will speak or write out their minds.
And maybe you as a person are on the fence about book banning. These are kids, we should protect kids, right? But that's my job. I'm my kids mom. Other kids have parents or guardians as well. They should be the ones making decisions for their children. It is not freedom for some other child's parent to remove a book from the library or school and prevent my child from reading it. The solution is simple, don't read it. It's a book, you can put it down and walk away.
But the history aspect of all this? I turn 50 tomorrow. I was 46 when I found out about the massacre in Tulsa Oklahoma and Emmet Till. I should have been taught about both. I grew up in Texas and went to college in Oklahoma. They didn't even teach me about it in college. I feel like the educational system failed me and now it is failing my children even more.
So, what can we do about it? Take up the challenge. Use our words. Fight extremism with the almighty pen and keyboard. Once more unto the breach.
On vocal, I can think of a few ways we can celebrate "Let Freedom Read" But please, feel free to create your own idea as well.
1. Write a story that would most likely get put on the banned list. Poem, Prose, Fiction, or Non-Fiction, all genres. Subtitle it, Let Freedom Read.
2. Critique/Review a banned book. There are several lists. They aren't hard to find, but here is a link to one anyway because links are fun. This list is only the classics that have been banned. There are many others if you search state and school lists who are currently banning books. Subtitle it, Let Freedom Read. https://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks/classics
3. Write in Education or FYI about a historically accurate event that in this current time is being censored. For example, some states are trying to frame slavery in a positive light. Others merely omit negative events in history. History is written by the victors, but we won't heal as a nation until the survivors of our past revise the story to include the fact they still exist. Subtitle it "Let Freedom Read"
4. Read a banned book. Pick a soundtrack for it in the vocal Music category. Pick a cast for its movie and costume them in Style. Write out the reason it was banned as if it was a tabloid. Subtitle it, Let Freedom Read
These ideas are meant for fun, but they are also important. We are writers, if people stop reading, we have no reason to write.
This is the video of the original challenge. You might recognize Mr. Burton from Reading Rainbow or Star Trek the Next Generation.
About the Creator
Mother of three lovely flames that burn the stars. Two partners that help me keep them fueled with music and laughter. Three cats, one dog and a lemonburst ball python. We are a puzzle of chaos, constantly finding our pieces.