As writers and artists, we know stories matter. That’s why the Writers Guild Initiative, PEN America, and Unite Against Book Bans have teamed up with actors, writers, and artists of all stripes to bring attention to the urgent crisis around book banning in the United States by highlighting the books that changed their lives in videos on Instagram and other platforms on the 2023 Banned Books Week Day of Action on Oct. 7, 2023.
We encourage book lovers everywhere to join the video campaign on social media and share your own favorite banned books with the hashtags #LetFreedomRead and #BannedBooksWeek. Read on for five ways to fight back against book bans.
5 Things You Can Do to Fight Book Bans
Censorship has swept the United States in the past two years, with nearly 6,000 book bans since PEN America began tracking them in 2021. Dozens of states have passed or debated laws that restrict the freedom to read, leaving teachers and librarians feeling pressure to limit children’s access to information. Here are five things you can do TODAY to fight book bans in your community and beyond.
Commit to Defend the Freedom to Read
We believe in the freedom to read. We believe that teachers and librarians deserve respect, and children deserve to learn about their world. Do you?
See our open letter supporting the freedom to read and send a letter to your local representatives.
Support Organizations That Defend Readers and Writers
PEN America is tracking book bans across the country, successfully advocating against censorship, and challenging book banners in court.
We work with other organizations that defend the freedom to read, including Unite Against Book Bans, the National Coalition Against Censorship, the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, Campaign for Our Shared Future, We Believe, and local groups like the Florida Freedom to Read Project.
Do you know when school board elections happen in your state? School boards play an important role in ensuring students in your schools have access to books, and often have the power to allow or prevent book bans.
Text “READ” to 26797 for more information from Let America Read and to register to vote.
Buy or Check Out a Banned Book
Support free access to books by showing your interest in challenged titles. If you check out a book from a library or buy the book, it helps demonstrate to libraries and publishers that the book is valuable to readers.
Speak Out About Book Bans
Stand up for the right to read, even before challenges begin in your community. And bring your friends! Here are a few ways you can speak out.
- Share a Book That Changed Your Life on Social Media.
Join the #LetFreedomRead campaign on Instagram using our sticker, or share a video or photo on your social media platform of choice.
- Attend a School or Library Board Meeting.
Not sure what to say at a school board meeting? Check out our tips on what to say at school board meetings and our sample letter to share with a school or library.
- Join the Next Generation of Book Defenders.
PEN America’s Free Expression Institutes train the next generation to fight book bans in their communities. High school and college students can sign up for our free, online courses to learn more about how to defend the freedom to read.
- Find a Group – or Form Your Own.
Look for groups in your community that are fighting book bans, like our partners the Florida Freedom to Read Project or Annie’s Foundation. Find a group at Fightforthefirst.com.
- Speak Publicly About Books.
Books change lives. Show how a book made a difference in your life with a letter to a local or school newspaper, send a postcard to an author or librarian, or share your story on social media with the hashtag #FreeTheBooks.
- Draw Attention to What’s Happening.
If book bans are happening in your community, tell PEN America, speak out to your local school board and officials, and check out PEN America’s guide on how to plan a peaceful protest.