Photo of Girl Scout Kate Lindley leaning against a brick wall and smiling

Freedom to Read Foundation Honors Girl Scout Kate Lindley

This blog post is from the Freedom to Read Foundation, a Unite Against Book Bans partner.

The Freedom to Read Foundation Board of Trustees will award a special citation to Kate Lindley of Hanover County, Virginia in recognition of her Girl Scout Gold Award Project, “Free to Read.” The citation will also recognize Kate for her steadfast advocacy on behalf of the freedom to read—even as local elected officials censored any mention of her project at a ceremony intended to honor Gold Award winners in her community.

Lindley’s Gold Award project involved the creation of “Banned Book Nooks” and a “Free-to-Read” online app, both designed to help students in her community access books that had been banned by the Hanover County School Board. The Banned Book Nooks, located in local businesses and supported by community donations, make it possible for students to borrow many of the titles that were targeted. The “Free to Read” app provides the school board’s flawed reasoning for why the books were banned, why they are valuable, and where readers can still find them in Hanover County. Lindley also created “Talk Totes” containing 10-15 copies of a banned title with discussion questions, and recruited a network of student ambassadors to distribute the totes in the county’s four high schools.

When it came time for the Hanover County Board of Supervisors to recognize Kate for her Girl Scouts Gold Award, the Board of Supervisors refused to acknowledge her project. While other award winners received proclamations recognizing and detailing their Gold Award projects, Kate instead was given a proclamation that failed to include any mention of censorship or banned books.

Kate bravely stood up to this censorship and refused to be silenced. When it came time to accept her proclamation from the Board of Supervisors, she announced, “My name is Kate Lindley and I am from the Ashland District. I would like to let you, the Board of Supervisors, know that you have bestowed upon me the greatest honor you could, greater than that of any proclamation, in your censorship of my Gold Award Project. You have shown the world that you are afraid to call something what it is, be that a banned book or a deselected one. Thank you for this recognition.”

The Freedom to Read Foundation is proud to award a special citation to Kate Lindley for her advocacy on behalf of the freedom to read and her courage in speaking truth to power. The Foundation will honor Kate on Friday, June 28, 2024, at the Rally for the Right to Read during the American Library Association’s Annual Conference in San Diego, California.

In May, Kate was also recognized by a Presidential Citation from the Virginia Library Association, presented by Dr. Nan Carmack, 2024 VLA President.