In partnership with Book People, The Child Defense Fund of Texas, and the Austin Public Library, PEN America Austin will celebrate Banned Book Month 2023 on October 7 at Book People by demonstrating the magical power of reading. With legislature like Texas House Bill 900 threatening students’ access to books, PEN Austin is inviting local writers, readers, and free expression advocates to honor the magic of their unique stories.
This day of celebration for the magical power of reading will have two sections that will allow Austin residents to reflect on how integral books are to our identity and our ability to express ourselves. Staff from the CDF and APL will be on hand to supply writers, readers, and free expression advocates of all ages with the materials and knowledge to produce their own zine and bookmarks via a production workshop. Magician Nicole Cardoza will demonstrate the transformative power of words with a magic show. Lastly, the PEN America Freedom to Read team will present research findings about the book ban crisis and its effects on Texas students, schools, libraries, and booksellers. PEN America will be joined by local coalition leaders who are pushing back against book bans in defense of the freedom to read. Leaders like Carolyn Foote of FReadom Fighters will talk about ways to get involved locally in your own schools and communities.
Registration for this event is free and light refreshments will be served.
10:30AM – 11:00AM
Join us in the BookPeople kids amphitheater for a Banned Books themed storytime featuring books that have been banned or challenged. Can you guess which one was challenged and why? Help our littlest readers engage with the conversation around intellectual freedom while supporting their early literacy!
Make a Banned Book Bookmark Art Piece or Zine! Great for kids and adults.
Join us for a fun afternoon of Intellectual-Freedom themed crafting!
Austin Public Library will have supplies so you can make a bookmark inspired by the theme of Banned Books to add to a community mural project and bookmark contest. Prizes will be awarded on October 31 for top bookmark designs by age category city-wide.
Children’s Defense Fund will show you how to make DIY magazines (“zines”) and make your voice heard in support of the freedom to read. Learn about the history of zine-making and take home your own zine expressing your stories and ideas.
Nicole Cardoza (she/her) is a magician and storyteller. As a performer, Nicole shares her perspective on stage magic, the history and future of Black magicians, and encourages us to find the magic inherent in us all. She’s collaborated with brands including Google, Patreon, and Soho House. She’s toured the country and performed at universities, exclusive venues, for corporations and private events.
She’s also the founder of Reclamation Ventures, a venture studio creating and incubating ideas for our collective wellbeing. It also manages the Reclamation Ventures Fund, which provides philanthropic and early-stage investments in individuals and organizations making wellness more accessible. Over the past two years, it’s granted over $500,000 in direct support to marginalized wellness leaders.
Nicole’s first published book, Mindful Moves, a mindfulness book for children, was published in Spring 2021.
@blackgirlmagician on IG, TikTok and YouTube
As we spend the day celebrating free expression, we also acknowledge that the freedom to read is under assault as prohibitions on books proliferate across the county in classrooms, school districts, and libraries. The freedom to read ensures students have access to a diversity of views and expressions, public schools and libraries serve the educational process by making knowledge and ideas available, and books remain available regardless of the personal or political ideologies of some.
In this session, Kasey Meehan of the PEN America Freedom to Read team will present research findings about the book ban crisis and its effects on students, schools, libraries, and booksellers in Texas. PEN America will be joined by local coalition leaders who are pushing back against book bans in defense of the freedom to read. Leaders like Carolyn Foote of FReadom Fighters will talk about ways to get involved locally in your own schools and communities.
Kasey Meehan is the Freedom to Read Program Director at PEN America, leading our initiatives to protect the right of students to freely access literature in schools. Previously, Kasey served as the Associate Director of Postsecondary Policy at a mission-driven education research organization in Philadelphia, Research for Action. Kasey’s research centers students, educators, and school leaders’ experiences in identifying strategies for reform and capturing emerging best practices and strives to connect research to policy and program change. Kasey holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and a MPA from the Fels Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, along with a Certificate in Politics.