When books and schools are under attack for teaching children self-love and identity.
It's towards the end of Black History Month 2022, and with the current climate of books being banned that discuss race and the experiences of BIPOC in the US, it is more critical than ever that we continue to teach our youth about the history - the good and not so good - of Black Americans and other underrepresented groups.
Education should teach and inspire. It should include subjects of discovery, where pupils are exposed to life skills and experiences they otherwise would not have. It should also be representative of people and characters that connect with a child's own identity so they have an idea of what they can aspire to be. Most importantly, education should be honest, and should not be censored simply because it makes those who are not experts in education uncomfortable.
This is especially true with Black history; however, with the demands for the censorship and banning of books mentioning the experiences of African Americans, more educators are finding it difficult to teach this area of American history without being reprimanded, or worse, terminated.
Teachers should be allowed to teach what they know is best for the cognitive development of their students, and parents should be willing to trust the work they do. If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is that teachers work extremely hard to ensure our children get the best education with the resources they have.
Books are an essential part of these resources. To ban them would not only be robbing our children of the education they deserve but also the inspiration they need to discover people and places they wouldn't on their own.
Right now, over 36 states have challenged books and/or have bills in place to be made into law that will ban books discussing the experiences of BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities. This is predominately happening in states where there is a large conservative constituency, yet there are a few blue states that are also seeing requests for book censorship, which makes this current trend that much more disturbing.
I highly recommend looking into your own state to see what is happening with children’s books bans, and find out what you can do to get involved to stop book censorship. The future of our children’s education and our First Amendment right- freedom of the press - depends on us to fight for children to read what inspires them. Losing this freedom can have devastating effects on both our children and our nation, and we don’t have to look far in history to know what those effects could be.
Anna Gilchrist is a children's author, youth rights advocate, and founder of her company, Sandfish Publishing. She received her MFA in Childhood Studies at Swansea University in the UK and has published two books, both of which can be found on Amazon and her website. When she is not writing, she loves to spend her free time cooking gourmet meals, singing and dancing to 90's hits, and tending to her multiple plants in her New Jersey home.