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Five reasons we won't self censor within our book fair programs

Five reasons we won't self censor within our book fair programs

Posted by Laura on Nov 14th 2023

Wunderland Books exists to celebrate new and award-winning fiction for children and teens. One of the reasons we chose to focus on this area so specifically is because children deserve the opportunity to explore the growing wealth of diverse voices, timely storylines, and rich worlds created by today’s children and YA authors.

Because enabling children to explore the diversity of new voices in literature is so fundamental to why we exist, we will never self censor or “curate to a specific doctrine” (as we were once asked) to eliminate black, brown or queer children and teens from our shelves or within our book fair programs.

Here are five reasons we won’t do it:

  1. All children should see themselves in books: When we allow schools to opt-out or in from titles based on racial and gender related themes, we are telling our children that black, brown and queer children are less than and that their experiences do not matter. This sort of alienation and isolation is not acceptable in a society that should want all of its children to thrive.
  2. We learn empathy and compassion from stories different than our own: When children read about characters who are different from themselves, it exposes them to a wide range of perspectives and ways of life. This exposure can broaden their understanding of the world and foster empathy by allowing them to see things from different points of view. Also, diverse characters in books often challenge stereotypes and prejudices. When children encounter characters who break stereotypes or who confront bias and discrimination, it can help them question and reevaluate their own preconceived notions and biases.
  3. Children are smart: Don’t underestimate their ability to understand complex topics. People often say that children aren’t ready for topics about race and gender, regardless of the incredible care that authors take to approach these issues in age appropriate ways. But one of the gifts of childhood is that children are particularly skilled at asking questions in the spirit of understanding. Stories that include diverse characters can spark important questions and discussions between children and adults. When children inquire about the themes and issues presented in these books, it provides an opportunity for parents, teachers, or caregivers to engage in meaningful conversations.
  4. Parents are capable: Individual parents are capable of making their own decisions about how, when, and what reading happens within their households. They don’t need someone else to make that decision for them. According to the Parent Perceptions of Public Libraries Survey, “Top-level findings show that a majority of respondents (67%) think that “banning books is a waste of time,” and 74% agree or somewhat agree that book bans infringe on their right to make decisions for their children.”
  5. Intellectual freedom is essential for our democracy: Book companies have a role in safeguarding intellectual freedom. Self-censorship compromises this role by making decisions based on avoiding controversy, which can lead to the suppression of important and challenging ideas. It sets a dangerous precedent where the threshold for what is considered "controversial" can become increasingly restrictive. Self-censorship motivated by fear of controversy or backlash undermines the principles of intellectual freedom, diversity, and the open exchange of ideas, which are essential in any society that values democracy and the advancement of knowledge.

When we understand that the vast majority of parents do not support book bans and that 60% of book bans are initiated by 11 people, how can anyone stand by and let a small group of people erase our children from bookshelves and persecute our librarians and teachers?

Wunderland Books will always stand in support of our teachers and librarians as they continue to work to make sure every child is seen. And we’ll continue to share the amazing work of the incredible authors bringing the diversity of the world into our children’s lives every day.

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