Book bannings are on the rise, and LeVar Burton isn’t having it.
During an appearance on “The View” Thursday, the former “Reading Rainbow” host was asked by Joy Behar what he thought of the “ongoing push to ban important children’s books, especially about race, sexuality and basically American history,” that has been making headlines over the last few years.
“I’ll be absolutely candid and honest, it’s embarrassing that we are banning books in this country, in this culture, in this day and age,” Burton told Behar. “We have this aversion in this country to know about our past. And anything that is unpleasant, we don’t want to deal with. ”
Burton added that turning away from history by banning books is not the answer.
“This is not going away. Nothing goes away, especially if you ignore it, ”Burton said. “So, read the books they’re banning. That’s where the good stuff is. If they don’t want you to read it, there’s a reason why. ”
Reports of book bannings and attempted book bannings, along with threats against librarians, have soared over the past year, according to the American Library Association’s annual State of America’s Libraries Report. The association found 729 challenges – affecting nearly 1,600 books – at public schools and libraries in 2021, more than double 2020’s figures and the highest since the ALA began compiling challenges more than 20 years ago.
The library association defines a “challenge” as a “formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.”
The number could well grow again in 2022, as conservative-led school boards and legislatures enact more restrictions, said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. In late March, the Georgia legislature passed a bill that would accelerate the process for removing books seen as “harmful to minors.”
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Another public figure taking a stand against book bannings is Canadian author Margaret Atwood. A specially commissioned, unburnable edition of Atwood’s frequently challenged dystopian 1985 novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” was auctioned for $ 130,000 Tuesday, in support of PEN America, which advocates for free expression worldwide.
To help promote the initiative, Atwood agreed to be filmed attempting – unsuccessfully – to incinerate a prototype with a flamethrower.
“Free speech issues are being hotly debated, and PEN is a sane voice amidst all the shouting,” said the Canadian author in a statement. views. We hope it raises awareness and leads to reasoned discussion. “
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Contributing: Hillel Italie, The