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banned books

New York City Library

Watching things play out with the censorship of books in schools and public libraries across the country has been a wild ride. Whereas one day you can grab a copy of "Catcher in the Rye" as you peruse the shelves between classes, the next it’s banned. (Though, I think Salinger's Holden Caulfield escaped being tossed into most burn piles, but I imagine that foul-mouthed teen makes several lists.) The books that are being banned are the ones that promote diversity in any form. At first glance you can almost see the legitimacy of banning these books, but once you actually look at their titles and contents, it's clear that they’re pretty consistently displaying themes of diversity and inclusion.

It’s peculiar that books that depict what it’s like growing up in a world with two moms or living in America with brown skin would be removed from libraries at schools. Libraries are there to transport us into a different reality than our own. For some people living in small towns with not much diversity, there is little exposure to people that look or think differently than they do, and this can lead to a narrow view of the world. Libraries provide a bounty of free books, some taking you to giants in faraway lands and others showing you what it’s like to grow up feeling like you exist in the wrong body. There’s no limit to the worlds that books inside a library can expose you to, and they can bridge the gap between lived experiences and empathy for others you only read about.

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