A typewriter and a stack of books in front of a chalkboard with words that read "FIGHTING FOR FREEDOM"

Fighting for the Freedom to Read and the Freedom to Write

This blog post is from Cheryl L. Davis, General Counsel, The Authors Guild – a Unite Against Book Bans partner.

Across the country, we are witnessing a concerning increase in attacks on books, especially those written by or about LGBTQIA+ people and people of color. The Authors Guild—the largest and oldest professional organization for writers in the United States—stands firmly against this trend and has joined Unite Against Book Bans in its fight against censorship.

In addition to bringing litigation against states that have imposed unconstitutional book bans (including Arkansas, where the Court has granted a preliminary injunction, and Texas), the Authors Guild recently collaborated with three leading Unite partner organizations to raise awareness and organize support for the freedom to read.

On June 25, 2023, the Authors Guild joined the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Association, and the American Association of Publishers to recommit itself to the timeless message of the Freedom to Read Statement, originally written 70 years ago. We are proud that, along with 130 publishers, associations, and organizations, nearly a thousand of our members signed on to add their support.

By signing on, we affirm that the freedom to read is indispensable to our democracy and the birthright of all individuals, regardless of their beliefs or political affiliations. This freedom to read is intrinsically connected to the freedom to write, which is vital for all authors. We must all fiercely safeguard these freedoms. It’s not too late to sign on—add your name to the Freedom to Read Statement.

In addition, the Authors Guild offers several resources to support your book ban advocacy efforts:

Speak Out Against Book Bans

Our Stop Banned Books Toolkit empowers individuals to counter the rise of book bans in school boards through a variety of actions, including sending emails to school boards, writing op-eds, and contacting state representatives to express concerns. The toolkit provides sample templates and resources to find local school board members and state representatives.

Join a Banned Book Club

Reading banned books enables individuals to explore diverse perspectives and challenge conventional ideas. The Authors Guild Banned Books Club is hosted virtually on the Fable App and features a different banned book each month. Readers can join the moderated book discussions, led by the author or a well-known writer with a special affinity for the work.

If Your Book Gets Banned

Book challengers often cherry pick words and phrases to prompt outrage; writers can respond to this by reading from their books at school board meetings to point out why the outrage is unfounded, or they can circulate a written statement. Banned Books Week is another opportunity for writers with banned books to draw attention to their work by staging public readings. For more information, the National Coalition Against Censorship has a list of resources for authors dealing with attacks on their creative output as writers.