Celebrating the Freedom to Read - Banned Books Week 2023

Picture books are an essential tool for helping young readers to learn and grow in life and literacy. Having illustrations of people that look like them or their family, share emotions they may have experienced, and convey messages they might understand is a vital piece of their foundation as readers. That’s why I fiercely champion every citizen’s right to read. This week is Banned Books Week, an annual celebration of the freedom to read.

“The courageous students, teachers, librarians, and authors who stand up for challenged ideas remind us that intellectual freedom is our birthright.” Charles Brownstein

I believe no one has the right to make decisions about what other people’s children read. At a library or a bookstore filled with books I, as a parent, can choose books I deem appropriate for my children. I want all the books to be available to me or my kids to make that choice. I will not shy away from difficult conversations or touchy subjects – my children deserve to hear from me about these topics. I welcome their questions, celebrate their curiosity, and support their desire to learn. Even if it’s uncomfortable. Especially if it’s uncomfortable. My family is very diverse and I feel so proud and fortunate to live with such a richly woven tapestry of differences.  

Books that expand our understanding of other cultures, experiences, and perspectives are welcome in my bookshop. Those who ban books seek to wipe out or minimize another human being’s thoughts, experiences, and ideas. This is not a democracy.

So this week we shine a light on defending our right to read and our freedom to choose. And Saturday, October 7, 2023 is “Let Freedom Read” Day. It is a “day of action against censorship.” Everyone should have the chance to learn about experiences different from their own.

In honor of Banned Books Week I am featuring “And Tango Makes Three” by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, illustrated by Henry Cole. I love this picture book. Two male penguins, Roy and Silo, make history when they, as a couple, raise a chick named Tango. She is loved, accepted, and thrives in their penguin colony at the Central Park Zoo. This is a true story. It’s about the power of love and validity of diverse families.
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