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Censorship Harms Everyone - a Presidio Post Spotlight

Friday, February 18, 2022

Below is a sample from our school's weekly Presidio Post - a newsletter sent to PHS families that includes: Words from Lisa, PGA Happenings, Information about Athletics and our Neighborhood Program, a Book of the Week, and much more. One section, our DEI Spotlight, was recently guest-authored by Leticia Abeyta - 3rd Grade Lead Teacher and MLT Co-Facilitator. Please see below for her wonderful piece: 

Censorship Harms Everyone

Literature is a powerful tool for building empathy, understanding, and compassion in our students.

Reading stories is one way for schools to open windows, mirrors, and sliding doors to multiple perspectives and histories of people both similar to and different from our students. The brilliant Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop coined these connected terms as she delved deeply into the power of representation and validation that diverse books can have for students who are historically excluded and underrepresented. As Dr. Bishop explains, “When there are enough books available that can act as both mirrors and windows for all our children, they will see we can celebrate both our differences and our similarities.” In her research, she describes reading as a transformative experience, a way for all readers to gain understanding and build empathy for a perspective different from their own (the window).  Censoring stories that center and celebrate diverse voices impacts all students. 

Image: American Library Association, Office of Intellectual Freedom, Banned Book Week Publication 

The school book bans we're seeing across the country–bans on books about LGBTQ+ people, on books disproportionately about people of color, and books that deal with racism, racial identity, and even the stories of Jewish people who experienced the Holocaust–are concerning. Did you know that books well-loved by many PHS educators across divisions are included on the American Library Association’s Most Banned and Challenged Books 2010-2019 including The Day We Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, and The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas?

Books unite us. Sharing stories that are important to us means sharing a part of ourselves. Books reach across boundaries and build connections between readers. Censorship, on the other hand, divides us and creates barriers. Censoring young people’s ability to learn about historical and ongoing injustice is itself, an injustice. Our All Are Welcome core value reaffirms the critical need for stories that center underrepresented and historically marginalized voices to be told and celebrated. Limiting children’s access to history, culture, and identity is limiting for everyone, including those who have the privilege to be defined and featured in dominant literature.

Image citation: Huyck, David and Sarah Park Dahlen. (2019 June 19). Diversity in Children’s Books 2018. sarahpark.com blog. Created in consultation with Edith Campbell, Molly Beth Griffin, K. T. Horning, Debbie Reese, Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, and Madeline Tyner, with statistics compiled by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison: https://ccbc.education.wisc.edu/literature-resources/ccbc-diversity-statistics/books-by-about-poc-fnn/. Retrieved from https://readingspark.wordpress.com/2019/06/19/picture-this-diversity-in-childrens-books-2018-infographic/


Helpful resources: 

You may be familiar with the Caldecott and Newbery Medals, but there are many other awards for children’s literature, including: