After Texas and Florida, Pennsylvania has more books banned than any other state!
As of April, 2023, more than 450 books are either challenged or banned in eleven school districts in the commonwealth, including the Kutztown Area and Central York districts. Because book banning challenges freedom of expression, which is critical to the arts, the Fall Festival of the Arts committee encourages your awareness of the assault and your support of freedom for our school and public libraries.
What is happening?
Nationally-funded groups, such as “Moms for Liberty,” are establishing local chapters to promote bans based on restrictive views related to
race, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, history, economic status, and language. In many school districts across the country, the
voice of one irate parent has caused the local school board to remove books from the shelves, denying their availability to all others. Librarians and school board members have been harassed and even threatened if they resist complying with the demands of these few.
Among the books banned are many we consider to be classics of American and English writers: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
and Tom Sawyer, All the King’s Men, Animal Farm, Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl, Beloved, Brave New World, The Call of the Wild, Catch-22, The Catcher in the Rye, The Color Purple, Fahrenheit 451, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Grapes of Wrath, The Great Gatsby, the Harry Potter Series, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, The Kite Runner, Lord of the Flies, The Lord of the Rings, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Of Mice and Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Rabbit Run, Sophie’s Choice, To Kill a Mockingbird, A Wrinkle in Time.
Throughout history, book banning (and burning!) has been essential to the rise of authoritarian rulers and dictators, who see education and free expression as threats to their hold on power.
What Can We Do?
- Let local school board members know that you are opposed to book bans. Be attentive to school board candidates, voting for those without extremist agendas. (Use of terms such as “woke,” “parental control,” “CRT,” and “grooming” may be red flag warnings about far right intentions.)
- Get to know your local librarians, asking how you can help to support them.
- Contact your state senator and representative, expressing your opposition to book banning legislation, and encouraging laws that inhibit it.
- Support freedom of expression groups, such as Pen America, founded in 1922 (Pen.org), and the American Library Association (ala.org). Check out their websites for more information and updates.
Thank you for your support of the arts and freedom of expression.
“Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you’re going to conceal faults by
concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don’t be afraid to go to your library
and read every book…”
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dartmouth College commencement address, 1953