The Banned Books Week Coalition is delighted to host some amazing creators during Banned Books Week, September 26 – October 2, including a warm-up even with comics superstar Gene Luen Yang, Facebook Live events with the creators of the banned children’s books Something Happened in Our Town and One of a Kind Like Me and Banned Books Week Honorary Chair Jason Reynolds, and Twitter chats with Laurie Halse Anderson and Alex Gino! Get the details here!
A Conversation With Gene Luen Yang: Censorship in Leander, Texas
Thursday, September 23, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. EDT / 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. CDT / 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. CDT
Facebook Live: https://www.facebook.com/bannedbooksweek
Bestselling comics creator and former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese, Dragon Hoops, Shang-Chi) is joined by educator Alexis Huddleston and parent Stephani Bercu for a conversation about the censorship of young people’s literature in Leander, Texas, and beyond! Early this year, the school district in Leander undertook a review of its book club reading lists after a parent complained about one of the titles during a school board meeting. The review led to the removal of more than a dozen acclaimed and award-winning novels and graphic novels, most of them by people of color or featuring diverse characters. Huddleston and Bercu will speak about their experience defending the reading lists, while Yang — who has two titles, Dragon Hoops and American Born Chinese, on the list — will offer a creator’s perspective on censorship. Moderated by Nora Pelizzari (National Coalition Against Censorship) and Betsy Gomez (Banned Books Week Coalition).
Gene Luen Yang writes, and sometimes draws, comic books and graphic novels. As the Library of Congress’ fifth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, he advocates for the importance of reading, especially reading diversely. American Born Chinese, his first graphic novel from First Second Books, was a National Book Award finalist, as well as the winner of the Printz Award and an Eisner Award. His two-volume graphic novel Boxers & Saints won the L.A. Times Book Prize and was a National Book Award Finalist. His other works include Secret Coders (with Mike Holmes), The Shadow Hero (with Sonny Liew), New Super-Man and Superman from DC Comics (with various artists), Superman Smashes the Klan from DC Comics (with Gurihiru), the Avatar: The Last Airbender series from Dark Horse Comics (with Gurihiru), and Dragon Hoops. He is currently writing Shang-Chi for Marvel Comics.
In 2016, Yang was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow, and the Library of Congress, Every Child A Reader, and the Children’s Book Council appointed him the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. For more, visit www.geneyang.com
Censorship of Children’s Books: A Conversation with the Creators of Something Happened in Our Town and One of a Kind, Like Me
Monday, September 27, 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. EDT / 1:30– 2:30 p.m. CDT / 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. PDT
Facebook Live: https://www.facebook.com/bannedbooksweek
Join the Banned Books Week Coalition in a conversation about the censorship of children’s books with Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard, the authors of Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice, and Laurin Mayeno and Robert Liu-Trujillo, the author and artist of One of a Kind, Like Me. Something Happened in Our Town, which examines the impact of a police shooting from the perspectives of a Black family and a White family, was one of the top ten most challenged books of 2020. One of a Kind, Like Me, which tells the story of boy who wants dress as a princess in his school costume parade, was banned in a North Carolina school district in early 2021. We’ll discuss the circumstances behind the censorship challenges to the books, how the attacks on diverse literature harm students, and what we can do to defend children’s books. Moderated by Betsy Gomez (Banned Books Week Coalition).
Something Happened in Our Town follows two families — one White, one Black — as they discuss a police shooting of a Black man in their community. The story aims to answer children’s questions about such traumatic events, and to help children identify and counter racial injustice in their own lives.
Includes an extensive Note to Parents and Caregivers with guidelines for discussing race and racism with children, child-friendly definitions, and sample dialogues.
Marianne Celano, PhD, ABPP, Marietta Collins, PhD, and Ann Hazzard, PhD, ABPP, worked together for more than two decades as Emory University School of Medicine faculty members serving children and families in Atlanta. All three psychologists have been involved in community advocacy efforts focused on children’s behavioral health and social justice.
Dr. Celano and Dr. Hazzard have developed and utilized therapeutic stories in individual and group therapy with children and teens. All three authors valued story-time with their children, who taught them important lessons about what children need from adults.
Something Happened in Our Town is their first picture book for children.
One of A Kind, Like Me / Único como yo is a sweet story about unconditional love and the beauty of individuality. It’s a unique book that lifts up children who don’t fit gender stereotypes, and reflects the power of a loving and supportive community.
Tomorrow is the school parade, and Danny knows exactly what he will be: a princess. Mommy supports him 100%, and they race to the thrift store to find his costume. It’s almost closing time – will Danny find the costume of his dreams in time?
About the Author: For more than 17 years, Laurin Mayeno has provided consulting services to numerous organizations, resulting in greater diversity, more inclusive and equitable work environments, and improved effectiveness working with diverse populations. Laurin’s experiences as a mixed race woman growing up during the social movements of the 1960s, led her to work that fosters inclusion, equity and full appreciation for cultural diversity. Her experience as the mother of a nonbinary queer child also gave her a deep appreciation for importance of responding to gender diversity, which is now a central focus of her work. Her Proud Mom videos and her bilingual children’s book One of a Kind, Like Me/Único como yo are among the resources she has developed to spark dialogue and understanding.
About the Illustrator (from his website): Robert Liu-Trujillo is a life long Bay Area resident. Born in Oakland California, he’s the child of student activists who watched lots of science fiction and took him to many demonstrations. Always drawing, Rob grew up to be an artist falling in love with graffiti, fine art, illustration, murals, and children’s books. In that order, sort of. Through storytelling he’s been able to scratch the surface of so many untold stories. Rob is the author and illustrator of Furqan’s First Flat Top. He’s a dad of a teenage boy and a brand new baby girl. He loves ice cream and his wife who laughs big and corrects his grammar every chance she gets. Down with the system and soggy french fries!
Rob is a co-founder of The Trust Your Struggle Collective, a contributor to The Social Justice Children’s Book Holiday Fair, The Bull Horn Blog, Rad Dad, Muphoric Sounds, and the founder of Come Bien Books.
Ask Jason Reynolds Anything* (*About Banned Books)
Tuesday, September 28, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. EDT / 12:00– 1:00 p.m. CDT / 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. PDT
Facebook Live: https://www.facebook.com/bannedbooksweek
Join Banned Books Week Honorary Chair and New York Times bestselling author Jason Reynolds for a conversation about censorship, young people’s literature, and the ways that books bring us together! Moderated by Emmy Award–winning writer, arts organizer, and librarian Scott Woods, this conversation will feature questions submitted by teens around the country. This livestream is free and open to all, and a great opportunity to engage your students and patrons during Banned Books Week!
Reynolds is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen books for young people, including All American Boys (with Brendan Kiely), Ghost, Long Way Down, Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks, and Stamped (with Ibram X. Kendi). A multiple National Book Award finalist, Reynolds has also received a Newbery Honor, a Printz Honor, an NAACP Image Award, and several Coretta Scott King Award honors. Reynolds recently received the Carnegie Medal for his middle grades novel Look Both Ways. He is currently serving a two-year term as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature for the Library of Congress.
As an advocate for storytelling and an outspoken critic of censorship, Reynolds is the perfect person to headline Banned Books Week 2021, which takes place September 26 – October 2 and has the theme, “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.”
#BannedBooksChat on Twitter with Laurie Halse Anderson
Wednesday, September 29, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. EDT / 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. CDT / 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. PDT
Join Laurie Halse Anderson, the author of the frequently challenged titles Speak and Shout, for a #BannedBooksChat on Twitter! Speak, a National Book Award finalist, appeared on ALA’s Top Ten Most Challenged Books list for 2020. The sequel, Shout, was one of more than a dozen titles removed from book club reading lists this summer in Leander, Texas. We’ll discuss the censorship of Anderson’s work, the impact of censorship on young people, and the ways books unite us during this Twitter chat.
Laurie Halse Anderson is a New York Times bestselling author whose writing spans young readers, teens, and adults. Combined, her books have sold more than 8 million copies. Her new book, SHOUT, a memoir-in-verse about surviving sexual assault at the age of thirteen and a manifesta for the #MeToo era, has received widespread critical acclaim and was Laurie’s eighth New York Times bestselling book.
Two of her novels, Speak and Chains, were National Book Award finalists, and Chains was short-listed for the prestigious Carnegie medal in the United Kingdom. Laurie has been nominated for Sweden’s Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award three times. Laurie was selected by the American Library Association for the Margaret A. Edwards Award and has been honored for her battles for intellectual freedom by the National Coalition Against Censorship and the National Council of Teachers of English.
In addition to combating censorship, Laurie regularly speaks about the need for diversity in publishing and is a member of RAINN’s National Leadership Council. She lives in Philadelphia, where she enjoys cheesesteaks while she writes. Find out more about Laurie by following her on Twitter at @halseanderson, Instagram at halseanderson, and Facebook at lauriehalseanderson, or by visiting her website, madwomanintheforest.com.
#BannedBooksChat on Twitter with Alex Gino
Thursday, September 30, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. EDT / 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. CDT / 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. PDT
Join Alex Gino, the author of George (Melissa’s Story), for a #BannedBooksChat on Twitter! Since its publication in late 2015, George (Melissa’s Story) has been an annual fixture on ALA’s Top Ten Most Challenged books list. It topped the most recent top ten, with challenges, bans, and restrictions for LGBTQIA+ content, conflicting with a religious viewpoint, and not reflecting “the values of our community.” In this Twitter chat, we’ll discuss the importance LGBTQ+ content, why it is frequently targeted by censors, and more!
From the author’s website:
Alex Gino loves glitter, ice cream, gardening, awe-ful puns, and stories that reflect the complexity of being alive. They would take a quiet coffee date with a friend over a loud and crowded party any day. A former LSAT tutor who never touched law school, Alex can still talk your ear off about sufficient and necessary conditions.
Alex has been writing stories since before they knew the alphabet, dictating stories to their parents. They have always considered themself a writer, but it wasn’t until 2014, with the sale of MELISSA’S STORY (GEORGE) that they had any idea that authoring books would be how they make their way in the world. They are grateful for the ability to spend their time and energy on something so close to their heart.
Alex has been an activist and advocate for LGBTQIAP+ communities since 1997, when they became co-chair of what was then called the LGBA at the University of Pennsylvania. (It was renamed the QSA the year after they left.) They are proud to have served on the board of NOLOSE, a fat-positive, queer, feminist organization dedicated to supporting radical fat acceptance and culture. Alex would like to thank the Black women and other amazing BIPOC folk of NOLOSE who raised their consciousness about race and how racism permeates our culture. They are currently a member of We Need Diverse Books and PEN America.
How Twitter Chats Work
The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords in a Tweet, which makes it easy to see the full conversation on a particular topic. For our Twitter chat, we will use the hashtag #BannedBooksChat
At the time of the chat, type #BannedBooksChat into the search box at the top of your Twitter homepage to see the conversation. Listen in, watch the comments from other attendees, and speak up when you are ready!
When discussion questions are posed, they will be labeled with a Q and a number representing the order. If you are responding to a question, use an A and the number of the prompt. To ensure your comment is automatically pulled into the chat feed for others to see, be sure to include #BannedBooksChat in your Tweet.
Q1. What does advocacy look like for students in your classroom/community? What are some ways or tools that students use to amplify their voices? #BannedBooksChat
When you respond, you would tweet:
A1. [your answer] #BannedBooksChat
A huge part of Twitter chats is responding to other participants’ answers and keeping the conversation going. Because you have the questions in advance of the chat, you can have your answers ready to go if you want! Many people use a tool like TweetDeck or Hootsuite to make following Twitter chats easier.
Twitter chats move quickly! If you can’t catch everything as it’s happening, don’t worry! You can search for #BannedBooksChat to find the conversation.