As we go into Banned Books Week, the news about unprecedented efforts to unjustly ban books from schools and libraries has never felt more urgent. Here at First Book, we have an intentional commitment to providing diverse, honest, and affirming titles on the Marketplace. We know that, consistent with the research of Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop and many others, providing access to books that reflect a variety of lived experiences is an essential tool of making lifelong readers and learners who actively engage in the world around them. Your students have a right to access books in which they can see themselves, books that show them the diversity and honest reality of our world, books that will make them laugh and cry and think and grow.
Free Resources for Educators
Facing challenges and censorship can be scary, but you are not alone in this fight. This resolution from AFT states in no uncertain terms how important diverse books are for effective education. The American Library Association has a toolkit for facing book bans. BookRiot has been doing a great job documenting censorship and has provided a template you can use to write letters to school boards and other administrative bodies. The Get Ready, Stay Ready toolkit is excellent, and We Need Diverse Books has a collection of resources for parents, educators, and librarians. (They are also trying to track soft censorship, so if that’s something you’re seeing, you can report it here.)
Books and Resources from First Book
First Book is doing its part, too, by continuing to offer diverse, relevant titles so that every child, no matter their circumstances, can access high quality books. First Book is committed to supporting our members as they select books to share with their students. Explore our Diversity & Inclusion page to find books that authentically represent a wide array of lives, experiences, cultures, and backgrounds, including books that feature LGBTQ+ characters and that honestly portray the realities of Black History. As you work to affirm your students’ experiences and foster a culture of kindness, check out our Social & Emotional Learning page, where you can find books that promote self-esteem and individuality and respect and empathy. We also invite you to take a look at our collection of free, downloadable resources, each created to help you take actionable steps to support the kids you serve each day.
As you talk to your colleagues and administrators about censorship attempts, show up for each other at school board meetings, and do everything you can to support your students while keeping yourself safe from harm, know that First Book is standing beside you in solidarity.
Join the Network
Educators can join First Book’s Network — the largest and fastest growing network of educators, schools, and programs serving children in need across the United States and Canada — to bring these titles and many more to your classroom.