Freedom to Read statement

For Banned Books Week 2023, PEN America and We Believe gathered a consortium of publishers and nonprofit organizations to rally behind the freedom to read with this open letter. If you believe in these principles, send a letter to your state lawmakers to voice your opposition to book bans.

Joint Statement

We believe in the freedom to read. 

Schools and libraries are critical places to kindle imaginations and spark a lifelong love of reading. Students deserve classrooms and school libraries that help them be successful. 

We believe stories matter. 

Books can be powerful, compelling, insightful, and enjoyable. Literature has endless value and should be publicly accessible to all. 

We believe in the freedom to learn.

Students need access to accurate history. Students deserve the chance to understand their world and everyone in it.

We believe all students should feel valued in the classroom.

Growing up is hard enough.  Classrooms and school libraries should be spaces where all students feel they belong.

We believe teachers and librarians deserve respect.

Schools and libraries are staffed by trained professionals who make informed decisions about educational materials. Their assessments should be respected and not subject to political pressure, threats, or intimidation.

We believe parents are partners in education.

Parents have long had a voice in schools. When a parent, student, or teacher requests or objects to a book, they should have their concerns heard and considered. However, one parent’s views or one group of parents’ views should not restrict access to books for all.  

We believe in clear, consistent, transparent policies around reviewing books.

Books must not be removed from shelves just because they are challenged. Evaluations of books must be based on facts and the merits, considered by decision makers who have read the book in its entirety.


American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education 

American Civil Liberties Union – Utah

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

Let Utah 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

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