Books are Powerful

books are powerful

I’ve loved reading, all my life. Being transported to different parts of the world, reading about people who are different than me, or reading about people overcoming challenges. I’ve been an avid book reader for as long as I can remember, starting when I was a little girl to participating in book clubs now. 

That’s why the recent cry to ban books has me so upset. Books expose people to other realities, to people who are different, who have different life experiences. Books teach you about humanity and help you feel less alone in your life. They transport you and help you understand another person’s joy, pain, trauma, and journey from here to there. Books provide a safe place in which to discuss uncomfortable aspects of being alive. 

The secret of freedom lies in educating people whereas the secret of tyranny lies in keeping them ignorant. ― Maximilien Robespierre

I went to the library and picked up 10 of the books on the banned list and read them. My guess is most people calling for banning books have never read these books. They hear people talk about teaching sex education to kindergartners or “grooming” kids to be gay and that scares them. So much misinformation is out there and people believe it without confirming the information. Ignorance leads to fear and contempt.  

I’m pretty sure everyone is against teaching sex education to kindergartners, but the truth is no schools are doing that. When I looked at one of the books they were talking about, All Are Welcome, I couldn’t figure out why they wanted to ban this book. It was a beautiful message that I think every parent would want their child to learn. Then I saw it, on the inside covers there were drawings of adults and children together, two men were holding the hand of a child, one black man and a white woman were with another child. That was it. This is a book that taught the beautiful values of respecting everyone and being kind.

This is what we’re dealing with, scare tactics to create fear which leads to hate. This is not a sex education problem, it’s a scam to cover up their real goal of promoting racism and homophobia. 

The book censors don’t mind that the vast majority of books assigned to high schoolers contain stories about murder, incest, alcoholism, adultery, suicide, and violence, all material that you’d think these concerned parents would deem inappropriate. For example, “In Oedipus Rex, the protagonist kills his father and sleeps with his mother. The Great Gatsby includes alcoholism, adultery, and murder. Romeo and Juliet centers on a torrid love affair between teenagers who kill themselves.”

But those aren’t the books they are going after. The overwhelming majority of books banned are about race and LGBTQ+ subjects.

Censors aren’t just going after the freedom to read; they’re trying to erase entire identities and histories.  – David Levithan

How about the theory that teaching black history will make white children feel bad about themselves? Ridiculous. “In Germany, teaching about the holocaust is mandatory. It includes visits to concentration camps, museums, etc. They don’t shy away from their own ugly history, yet the kids aren’t damaged. They’re strengthened, matured, humbled.” 

America will never correct its mistakes if teachers are not allowed to teach about them. 

“As parents, we don’t want to burden our kids but instead, we burden them with ignorance. Some subjects are often kept away from teens for fear of them being too heavy. But the truth of the matter is, these things happen so as heavy as the subjects maybe it is necessary that they not only be told but also read by teens who may have to navigate many of the same experiences in their own lives.

All of our stories are important, not only the ones with happy endings.”  George M Johnson, All Boys Aren’t Blue

The argument that parents, not schools, should control what their children read is wrong. Neither parents nor school board members have any background in literary collections. They do not have the skill set to make recommendations for any but their own children. 

“Library collections are developed by highly educated, certified school librarians with input from parents, students, teachers, and administrators, to include a wide variety of topics that serve the needs of every student [including what is age-appropriate material, and a range of viewpoints. They make sure the point of view of one person or one group is not dictating what everyone reads]. These passionate, experienced educators are being vilified, bullied, and in some instances, threatened for merely doing their jobs.”

Once again it’s the vocal minority that is creating the uproar. Turns out on both sides of the aisle, the majority of voters and parents oppose book bans. And yet, attempts to ban books from libraries are rising at an unprecedented level across the country. We can’t let the minority succeed. Check out Unite Against Book Bans, sign on to their campaign for everyone’s freedom to read, and check out their toolkit on how you can help. 

Most importantly, educate yourself on who is running for your local school board.  Make your voice heard. Be sure to vote.  

Is there someone who inspires you with their kindness?  Nominate them for the Matt Kurtz Kindness Award of $250.

Do you have an act-of-kindness project you want to do but need help funding it?  Submit your idea for the Matt Kurtz Kindness Grant of $500 and let us help you spread kindness.

8 thoughts on “Books are Powerful”

  1. Amen! Thank you for adding your name to the many who are heartbroken over these book bans. Texas has banned more books than any other statement in the United States. There are some school districts where parents have to sign a permission slip to allow their children to use the school library! It is frightening.

    1. you’re right it is frightening. feels like we’re moving back to puritanical times of book banning and witch hunts. so important we not allow the extremists to sit on school boards.

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