Authors Jason Reynolds, Nancy Pearl join high schoolers to Unite Against Book Bans at world’s biggest library event in Washington, D.C., June 25
For Immediate Release
Deputy Director, Communications
Public Policy & Advocacy
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Award-winning young adult author Jason Reynolds, Book Lust author Nancy Pearl and American Library Association (ALA) intellectual freedom advocate Deborah Caldwell-Stone will join Bell Multicultural High School (Washington, D.C.) students to make the case for defending the right to read—and the joy in claiming that right. The discussion will take place at the largest library event in the world, the ALA Annual Conference and Exhibitions, held in Washington, D.C., June 24-27.
“ALA is proud to have students join the conversation about book bans alongside our esteemed authors because young people are their own best advocates for the freedom to read,” said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom. “Books are especially important tools for students who want and need access to books that help them understand complex and challenging issues. Limiting young people's access to these books does not protect them from life's challenges, but access to books can cultivate critical thinking and open new horizons for them.”
During National Library Week (April 2022) ALA launched a new public advocacy campaign: Unite Against Book Bans. More than 40 national partners, including the American Federation of Teachers, Author’s Guild, Human Rights Council and publishers—have signed onto the Unite Against Book Bans campaign, providing resources and tools to enable readers to use their voice in the public arena to stop efforts to ban books at the state and local level.
WHO: Authors Jason Reynolds and Nancy Pearl; Deborah Caldwell-Stone, Director, ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom; Bell High School Library Ambassadors
WHAT: Unite Against Book Bans
WHERE: Saturday, June 25, 2022, 4:00pm ET/1:00pm PT
WHEN: Washington Convention Center* and Virtual
ALA tracked 729 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services in 2021, resulting in more than 1,597 individual book challenges or removals.
These are the most attempts to ban books since we began tracking over 20 years ago.
By comparison, in 2019 ALA tracked 377 challenges in which 566 books were targeted for censorship.
A large majority of Americans are opposed to book bans. A bipartisan poll conducted in Spring 2022 found that 71% of voters oppose efforts to remove books from public libraries – including majorities of voters across party lines.
About the speakers:
- Jason Reynolds is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and winner of many awards for his books, which include All American Boys (cowritten with Brendan Kiely); When I Was the Greatest; The Boy in the Black Suit; Stamped; As Brave as You; For Every One; the Track series (Ghost, Patina, Sunny, and Lu); Look Both Ways; Stuntboy, in the Meantime; Ain’t Burned All the Bright; My Name Is Jason. Mine Too. (with Jason Griffin); and Long Way Down, which received a Newbery Honor, a Printz Honor, and a Coretta Scott King Honor. He lives in Washington, DC. You can find his ramblings at JasonWritesBooks.com.
- Nancy Pearl speaks about the pleasures of reading and books on “Book Lust with Nancy Pearl,” her monthly tv show on the Seattle Channel. Pearl has been the recipient of many awards and honors, and in 2021 the National Book Foundation, presenter of the National Book Awards, named her the recipient of its 2021 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community. She has worked in the public library systems in Detroit, Tulsa, and Seattle, and went on to author the popular “Book Lust” series, four titles filled with recommendations of good books to read.
- Deborah Caldwell-Stone is director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom and executive director of the Freedom to Read Foundation. Throughout her 20-year tenure at ALA, Caldwell-Stone has worked closely with library workers, and library trustees on a wide range of intellectual freedom and privacy issues, including book challenges, internet censorship, meeting room policies and library users’ privacy and confidentiality. Prior to joining ALA in 2000, Caldwell-Stone served as an attorney and former appellate litigator in Chicago.
- Bell High School (Washington, DC) Library Ambassadors, under the leadership of school librarian Christopher Stewart, promote the library's resources, assist with projects and events, learn about the career of librarianship and promote a culture of peace, love and literacy.
The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library's role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all.
*ALA is monitoring the latest health and safety guidance for large group gatherings from the CDC, the DC Department of Health, and the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Please see the American Library Association Annual Conference 2022 Health Protocols for more information.