Thursday, June 6, 2024

June 6--Our Brave Youth

If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. If they don't, they never were.  --Kahlil Gibran

    I found this article in the spring 2023 ACLU magazine. This is what gives me hope for our young people and our future. 

The Banned Book Club By Ella Scott

During my freshman year, the Leander Independent School District began removing books from the English curriculum at my school, Vandegrift High School (VHS), in Austin, Texas. With the majority of students being virtual in 2020, many were unaware this was happening. My friend Alyssa and I heard the news through a teacher and, after finding the list of removed books, we recognized titles we had read and loved, like one of my favorites, The Handmaid's Tale. Alyssa and I immediately knew we had to do something to show that students not only wanted but needed these books in the classroom. We reached out to our friends to help us form the VHS Banned Book Club.

In our first year, we read seven books that had been removed from our school district's English reading lists. For each book, we created a statement that we sent to the reconsideration committees–groups of teachers, parents, and librarians that review books and decide whether they remain in our classrooms. Our statements are an overview of the conversations we have in our meetings, sharing what we were able to learn through our reading and discussion, and how this aided in our understanding of the world.

Our club was small in the beginning; at our first meeting, only four people showed up, two of which were Alyssa and me. Despite our small number, we kept meeting to raise student awareness, and now we have a total of 28 members. As we read more and more books, I noticed just how much our club had grown–not just in size, but in confidence. What started as a few friends meeting to read banned books has turned into a community of confident and articulate students who preach their love for these books with passion.

When adults ban books, they attempt to silence ideas that seem unfamiliar to them, concepts that they're afraid to confront. But these books break a barrier and allow students to start conversations about underrepresented ideas and themes–and light that fire. Reading these stories allows us to learn about our society and the world we will one day be responsible for navigating. These books are so much more than what you read in English class; they're an opportunity to start conversations with other students and learn from other perspectives, and countless students and I are prepared to fight for our right to learn.


    There's some bravery for you, and I love it!

At Botanica in Wichita

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