Bans Off Our Books!
The CBC’s Sommer Wissner and John McCormack are back with a recap of our fourth awesome panel at this summer’s CBC Graphic Novel Committee day at San Diego Comic-Con, Bans Off Our Books! Responding to Challenges.
This panel was about the controversy surrounding how censoring books affects teachers, librarians, and young people. They discussed what actions they have taken and what others can do to stop book banning.
- Jeff Smith (BONE) – Scholastic / Graphix
- Jennifer Lawson – Collection Development Manager, San Diego County Library
- Rich Johnson – VP of Sales and Business Development, Diamond Books
- Yukiko Chavez (along with a student of hers) – Library Media Technician, Vista Unified School District
Moderator Moni Barrette, President, Graphic Novel & Comics Round Table, ALA, asked the panelists about their experiences with books being banned and what they have done in response. She also asked them what actions others can take in their communities to support those who are working to make all books available to all readers.
Jennifer Lawson expressed that there is a lot of change happening and this could be a backlash by people not comfortable with changes in society. She suggests to “have a forum to show that problems are being taken seriously. Have a conversation explaining why this is important.”
The ones who want to censor books aren’t the only ones with an opinion on the matter. Speaking out against this issue helps librarians and teachers see that there is a fight to keep the book in stock.
Rich Johnson agreed, saying “if there isn’t a meeting, make it happen.” A discussion with the local librarian and bookseller about wanting a banned book in their stores helps them realize a demand for the book. He also mentions that “buy[ing] the book” further helps them want to keep the book in stock.
Yukiko Chavez shared her experience with a parent wanting a book banned from her library, saying that the parent never read the book and was just scared by a TikTok she saw on the book. “This is not the public versus the library. We need to be sensitive towards a parent’s fears, but banning books is not an option.”
Yukiko’s student Keaton H. explained that as a student, he doesn’t want to see bans on books, but thinks books can have age restrictions in schools. “Bookshops should have all types of books, but schools and libraries can restrict by age.”
Jeff Smith believes that much of the censorship he hears is part of “a script” that places “insidious” implications from authors and librarians to kids. “It would be one thing If parents were standing up, but it’s not.” By this he means, it’s not just parents making complaints about his book, BONE, but others who are saying the same thing time and time again.