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 LGBTQIA+ content, why it is frequently targeted by censors, and more!
Join us live on Twitter! During the Twitter chat, Gino and participants will share their thoughts on the following questions:
WARM-UP: Please introduce yourself. Tell us your name and location, and tell us about – or show us! – your favorite #BannedBook! #BannedBooksChat [7:04 p.m. EDT]
Q1: Your award-winning middle grades novel GEORGE (MELISSA’S STORY) was the most challenged book in 2018, 2019, & 2020. What are people afraid of? What’s it like to be the author of the #1 most banned book three years running? #BannedBooksChat [7:10 p.m. EDT]
Q2: For years now, books by or about LGBTQ+ people have been among the most frequently challenged. In what ways does the censorship of LGBTQ+ content harm readers, especially young people? #BannedBooksChat [7:18 p.m. EDT]
Q3: We talk a lot about what we would say to the people who try to censor books. What do we say to young people, including young trans people, who might be denied these books? How can we reassure and empower them? #BannedBooksChat [7:34 p.m. EDT]
Q4: Let’s address less obvious forms of censorship, or invisible censorship. Aside from challenges, what are some ways that people limit access to information, intentional and unintentional? How can we do better? #BannedBooksChat [7:34 p.m. EDT]
Q5: What advice do you have for people who are defending LGBTQ+ stories and programming in libraries and schools? What are some resources to which they can turn? #BannedBooksChat [7:42 p.m. EDT]
Q6: The theme of this year’s #BannedBooksWeek is “Books Unite Us, Censorship Divides Us.” What are some examples of books that bring us together? #BooksUniteUs #BannedBooksChat [7:50 p.m. EDT]
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.
You can keep up with Alex’s adventures mostly on Twitter (@lxgino), and occasionally on Facebook (Alex Gino, Author).
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.
Join the Banned Books Week Coalition and ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom at 1:00 p.m. CDT, September 30, for an exclusive Facebook Live event with acclaimed and award-winning author Alex Gino! The event celebrates Banned Books Week, which takes place September 23 – October 3, 2020, and will broadcast live on the Banned Books Week Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/bannedbooksweek/).
Gino’s award-winning middle grade novel George led ALA OIF’s Top 10 Most Challenged Books lists for 2019 and 2018, and it also appeared on the lists for 2017 and 2016. The book has been challenged, banned, restricted, and hidden to avoid controversy, for LGBTQIA+ content and a transgender character, for sexual references, and for conflicting with a religious viewpoint.
Over the course of the hour, we’ll converse about the censorship of Gino’s work and LGBTQIA+ materials and events, examine the importance of identity and representation in literature, and give you a chance to ask your questions during a short Q&A. The event will be moderated by Peter Coyl (he / him; Director, Montclair Public Library) and Betsy Gomez (she / her; Coordinator, Banned Books Week Coalition).
Alex Gino is author of middle grade novels Rick,You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P! and the Stonewall Award-winning George. They love glitter, ice cream, gardening, awe-ful puns, and stories that reflect the diversity and complexity of being alive. Born and raised on Staten Island, NY, they now enjoy living in Oakland, CA.
Established December 1, 1967, the Office for Intellectual Freedom is charged with implementing ALA policies concerning the concept of intellectual freedom as embodied in the Library Bill of Rights, the Association’s basic policy on free access to libraries and library materials. The goal of the office is to educate librarians and the general public about the nature and importance of intellectual freedom in libraries.
The Banned Books Week Coalition is an international alliance of diverse organizations joined by a commitment to increase awareness of the annual celebration of the freedom to read. The Coalition seeks to engage various communities and inspire participation in Banned Books Week through education, advocacy, and the creation of programming about the problem of book censorship.
We’ve hit the midway point of Banned Books Week, and we’re hitting a high point today with our Alex Gino (George) Facebook Live event! Today is packed, with an ALA / Image Comics panel on the Black people in comics, City Lit Theater’s Books on the Chopping Block, events with BBW Coalition members Index on Censorship and PEN America, and so much more! Read on for details…
Join the Banned Books Week Coalition and ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom at 1:00 p.m. CDT, September 30, for an exclusive Facebook Live event with acclaimed and award-winning author Alex Gino! The event celebrates Banned Books Week, which takes place September 23 – October 3, 2020, and will broadcast live on the Banned Books Week Facebook page … Read More
Valentine De Landro (Bitch Planet, X-Factor), Johnnie Christmas (Tartatus, Sheltered) and Chuck Brown (Bitter Root) in a conversation on how Black people have been historically portrayed in comics, from the obstacles of integrating Black characters into mainstream and superhero comics to present day works, issues Black creators face working in the comics industry, and the … Read More
Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books … Read More
In the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the resultant global Black Lives Matter protests, it has been clearer than ever before that the voices of some are prioritised to the exclusion of others. As part of Banned Books Week 2020 – an annual celebration of the freedom to read – Index is partnering with … Read More
This event is part of “Free Expression and the Humanities,” a series jointly sponsored by PEN America and the Institute of the Humanities & Global Cultures at the University of Virginia. Participants: Marlene L. Daut, Professor & Associate Director, Carter G. Woodson Institute, UVA Meredith D. Clark, Assistant Professor, Media Studies, UVA Tamika Carey, Associate … Read More
8:00 am – 5:30 pm EDT 244 Frazer Fir Rd., South Windsor, CT
Celebrate Banned Books Week by reading and discussing The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time! We’ll also talk about why this is a “banned book.” Meet facilitator Cynde Acanto at The Pond at Barber Hill, 244 Frazer Fir Rd., South Windsor. Bring your mask & chair. Please practice social distancing. This event will … Read More
The Los Angeles Review of Books invites you to join us for an urgent conversation about the ongoing protest movement in Hong Kong, its place on the international stage, and where Hong Kong might go from here. Over the last 18 months, protesters have gathered in world-historic numbers to demonstrate against state violence and what they … Read More
ACLU Montana, Belgrade Community Library, Bozeman Public Library, Country Bookshelf, Friends of MSU Library, and MSU Library partner to host a virtual Banned Book Trivia event.
Celebrate on Social Media All Week Long!
Make your own Banned Books Week assets for social media! We have several different formats of our main banner that you can add your own information to, or you can share your favorite banned books and trivia with our customizable digital shelftalkers! Check out the entire set or downloadables here. More…
#BannedBooksWeek in Action
Each day of Banned Books Week, OIF will promote a different action that spotlights literary activism. Titled #BannedBooksWeek in Action, readers are encouraged to share their activities on social media with the hashtag, focusing on the following daily topics:
Sunday: Read a banned book
Monday: Speak out about censorship
Tuesday: Create something unrestricted
Wednesday: Express the freedom to read in style
Thursday: Write about your rights
Friday: Watch, listen, and learn from others
Saturday: Thank those who defend the freedom to read every day of the year
Dear Banned Author
The annual Dear Banned Author letter-writing campaign encourages readers to write, tweet or email their favorite banned/challenged author during Banned Books Week. Postcards, author addresses and Twitter handles, and tips for hosting virtual programs can be found at ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/dear-banned-author. Examples of letters and programs are published on the Intellectual Freedom Blog. Those who use #DearBannedAuthor on Twitter will be entered into a grand prize drawing of Banned Books Week merchandise. Details and Official Rules are listed on the Dear Banned Author webpage.
Stand for the Banned Read-Out
Since the inception of Banned Books Week in 1982, libraries and bookstores throughout the country have staged local read-outs of banned and challenged books. The Stand for the Banned Read-Outinvites readers to submit brief videos of themselves reading from a banned book or discussing censorship. Submitted videos may be added to the Banned Books Week YouTube channel.
The American Library Associations Office for Intellectual Freedom compiles an annual list of the most challenged and banned books. Normally, that list is only ten titles long, but this year’s list includes eleven titles, some of which were even burned by censors! Let’s take a look…
George by Alex Gino
Reasons: banned, challenged, and relocated because it was believed to encourage children to clear browser history and change their bodies using hormones, and for mentioning “dirty magazines,” describing male anatomy, “creating confusion,” and including a transgender character
A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG Keller
Reasons: banned and challenged for including LGBTQIA+ content, and for political and religious viewpoints
Captain Underpants series, written and illustrated by Dav Pilkey
Reasons: series was challenged because it was perceived as encouraging disruptive behavior, while Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-A-Lot was challenged for including a same-sex couple
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Reasons: banned and challenged because it was deemed “anti-cop,” and for profanity, drug use, and sexual references
This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman, illustrated by Kristyna Litten
Reason: challenged and burned for including LGBTQIA+ content
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
Reason: challenged and burned for including LGBTQIA+ content
ALA OIF tracked tracked 347 challenges to library, school, and university materials in 2018, targeting 483 books, programming, displays, and more. In 2018, many of the attacks against reading were aimed at LGBQIA+ content, political viewpoint, and sexual content.
For the current most challenged list and previous year’s lists, visit the ALA website here. ALA has also provided infographics, shelftalkers, and more about this year’s list here. Find out about the challenges faced by America’s libraries with the State of America’s Libraries Report 2019 here. Find images, infographics, and more on OIF’s free downloads webpage!
Banned Books Week is the annual celebration of the freedom to read. The event is sponsored by a coalition of organizations dedicated to free expression, including American Booksellers Association; American Library Association; American Society of Journalists and Authors; Association of University Presses; Authors Guild; Comic Book Legal Defense Fund; Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE); Freedom to Read Foundation; Index on Censorship; National Coalition Against Censorship; National Council of Teachers of English; PEN America; People For the American Way Foundation; and Project Censored. It is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. Banned Books Week also receives generous support from DKT Liberty Project and Penguin Random House.