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Authors Like Me Are Fighting the Book-Ban Zealots. We Need Help.

Mother Jones – Dashka Slater: “…The American Library Association reports that more than 2,500 books were challenged in 2022, a big uptick from the already astonishing 1,858 challenged in 2021, which was already five times the number challenged in 2019. Last year, some 41 percent of challenged books were by or about LGBTQ people, and 40 percent were by or about people of color. The 57 Bus, a nonfiction narrative about two teenagers on either side of a high-profile crime, is a twofer: One main character is Black, the other nonbinary. The Tennessean reported just last month that The 57 Bus is now one of that state’s top five most challenged books. Now that many books about race, gender, and sexuality have been cleared from the shelves, the censors are casting an even wider net. According to the latest report from PEN America, an increasing number of challenges target books about violence and abuse, health and wellbeing, and death and grief.  Book bans have been an American pastime since at least the antebellum era, when Southern states forbade the sale of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. In modern times, bans have usually involved lone crusaders targeting a particular title. But this new wave is fundamentally different, driven by groups with strong ties to the Republican Party, such as Independent Women’s Voice, Moms for Liberty, and No Left Turn. Often, a single person affiliated with one group or another presents local authorities with a long list of books they want removed from the shelves—sometimes books they haven’t read and whose names they can’t even bother to get right. One member of Moms for Liberty had 20 Jodi Picoult titles removed from school libraries in Martin County, Florida. Citizen censors even targeted a book by bestselling young adult author John Green for being “depressing.”…

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