Join the New York Public Library’s Teen Banned Book Club and Fight for the Freedom to Read!
Throughout the year, New York Public Library's (NYPL) Teen Banned Book Club will be offering free digital access to YA titles that have been the subject of book bans or challenges, and hosting live virtual author events, to young people nationwide.
Advocating for the freedom to read by engaging with banned and/or challenged materials is a crucial component in the fight against censorship and the silencing of marginalized voices and these community members' stories. In their September 19, 2023 press release, the American Library Association (ALA) "reported the continued rise in attempts to censor books and materials in public, school and academic libraries during the first eight months in 2023. Between January 1 and August 31, 2023, ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) reported 695 attempts to censor library materials and services and documented challenges to 1,915 unique titles.* The number of unique titles challenged has increased by 20 percent from the same reporting period in 2022, the year in which the highest number of book challenges occurred since ALA began compiling this data more than 20 years ago. Most of the challenges were to books written by or about a person of color or a member of the LGBTQIA+ community."
*ALA compiles data on book challenges from reports filed with its Office for Intellectual Freedom by library professionals in the field and from news stories published throughout the United States. Because many book challenges are not reported to the ALA or covered by the press, the 2023 data compiled by ALA represents only a snapshot of book censorship throughout the year. A challenge to a book may be resolved in favor of retaining the book in the collection, or it can result in a book being restricted or withdrawn from the library.
The November 2023 NYPL Teen Banned Book Club pick was Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro (2020). Oshiro (they/them) is the award-winning author of several YA and middle grade works of fiction, many of which are available through Pima County Public Library (PCPL). They are also the co-author (with Rick Riordan) of the #1 New York Times Bestseller and #1 Indie Bestseller The Sun and the Star: A Nico di Angelo Adventure. When not writing, they are trying to pet every dog in the world. Oshiro is based in Atlanta, GA. Read on for a sneak peek into Each of Us a Desert:
"Xochitl is destined to wander the desert alone, speaking her troubled village's stories into its arid winds. Her only companions are the blessed stars above and enigmatic lines of poetry magically strewn across dusty dunes. Her one desire: to share her heart with a kindred spirit. One night, Xo's wish is granted--in the form of Emilia, the cold and beautiful daughter of the town's murderous conqueror. But when the two set out on a magical journey across the desert, they find their hearts could be a match--if only they can survive the nightmare-like terrors that arise when the sun goes down."
Each of Us a Desert is available through PCPL as a hardcopy book, eBook, and downloadable audiobook. Interested readers can also download and read this and each subsequent month's pick via NYPL's SimplyE app. We encourage you to keep an eye on this space to keep up with the book club's monthly recommendations and join a nationwide community of banned book readers. NYPL will be announcing the next Teen Banned Book Club pick on January 3!
Check out these resources to learn more about censorship and book challenges in the United States:
However you choose to get involved, we're so glad you're joining PCPL and NYPL in the fight for the freedom to read!