(NEW YORK) — For Banned Books Week 2023, PEN America and We Believe gathered a consortium of the nation’s leading publishers, teacher and librarian groups, and nonprofit organizations to rally behind the freedom to read by signing a joint open letter and launching a public letter-writing campaign opposing book bans.

The open letter stakes out principles that unite the groups in opposition to book bans and support of free expression. “We believe in the freedom to read. Schools and libraries are critical places to kindle imaginations and spark a lifelong love of learning. Students deserve classrooms and school libraries that help them be successful,” it begins. “We believe stories matter. Books can be powerful, compelling, insightful, and enjoyable. Literature has endless value and should be publicly accessible to all.”

With school book bans surging 33 percent over the past school year, according to PEN America’s recent Banned in the USA report, this year’s Banned Books Week Oct. 1-7 is being marked with greater urgency to reverse a growing crisis that is erasing ideas and topics from classrooms and libraries. =

The open letter was signed by publishers Penguin Random House, Simon and Schuster, Macmillan, Scholastic, Hachette Book Group, Sourcebooks, Lee & Low, Levine Querido, Candlewick, Bloomsbury, Charlesbridge, Browns Books Publishing Group, Familius, Mad Cave Studios, and Quarto. The American Library Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Council of Teachers of English, the National Education Association, and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education also signed on.

Other organizations signing the statement include the CAA Foundation, Campaign for Our Shared Future, Children’s Book Council, Every Child a Reader, Learning Heroes, Let America Read, Our Turn, Parents Together, Red, Wine & Blue Education Fund, Stand for Children, Unite Against Book Bans, and We Need Diverse Books

Among the points made in the letter is that all students should feel valued in the classroom, that parents are partners in education, and that teachers and librarians deserve respect. As part of the campaign, the organizations are encouraging members of the public to send letters to their local representatives opposing book bans, with an easy electronic option on the Pen.org website.

The undersigned groups have joined with the open letter to fight book bans:

American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education 

American Federation of Teachers

American Library Association


Brown Books Publishing Group

CAA Foundation

Campaign for Our Shared Future

Candlewick Press 


Children’s Book Council

Every Child a Reader


Florida Freedom to Read Project

Freedom to Read Foundation

Hachette Book Group

Learning Heroes

Lee & Low

Let America Read

Levine Querido

Macmillan Publishers

Mad Cave Studios

National Council of Teachers of English

National Education Association

Our Turn

Parents Together

PEN America

Penguin Random House


Readers to Eaters

Red Wine & Blue Education Fund


Simon & Schuster


Stand for Children

Unite Against Book Bans

We Believe

We Need Diverse Books


About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. To learn more visit PEN.org

About We Believe

We Believe, a project of ParentsTogether, is a national movement elevating the perspectives of parents and families fighting for the freedom to learn. Our rapidly growing community has more than 32,000 active movement members, and we have reached millions across our social channels with content that educates, activates, and inspires parents to join our cause.