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Banned Camp

Banned Camp - "Banned Camp is a partnership between Austin Public Library and BookPeople. We invite you to come together, engage with books that have been banned or challenged, and be part of the conversation."

What a fabulous idea. Most libraries usually make a display featuring banned books, especially during Banned Books Week, but for a library to feature banned books through programming for all ages, inviting authors of banned books to do talks, and promoting discussion at the events?

*Chef's Kiss*

An article in the Austin American-Statesman states:

Of all nationally challenged books, 41% contain characters of color and 33% contain LBGTQ+ characters. Texas leads book banning with 713 bans across 16 school districts, according to an analysis by PEN America, which advocates for free expression in the literary arts.

Author George M. Johnson details why representation is so important.

At the kickoff event, author George M. Johnson spoke at the Carver Branch library about their book "All Boys Aren't Blue," the third-most frequently challenged book in the country.

The book, aimed at ages 14 and older, includes content dealing with teen sexuality. Much of the pushback has been about four pages that critics have taken out of context, the author said. Critics insist the book teaches children about sex, but Johnson says it teaches children about consent.

"They commented on these four pages of a 320-page book, which I think speaks volumes about how people do not look at the totality of a person," Johnson said. "They look at the one thing that they want to attach themselves to and that person may attack that thing."

Growing up, Johnson said they couldn't find LGBTQ+ representation in the books they read. Instead, they read fantasy books to connect with things that seemed "otherworldly."

"It was my way of trying to connect this space," Johnson said. "I knew I was different, but I didn't know how to connect to them. Like you read something that's outside of normal acceptability in society because you feel like you're outside of the normal acceptable society."

Because they couldn't find LGBTQ+ representation in books, Johnson wrote a book to fill the gap. They said their books serve as a blueprint for LGBTQ+ youths who don't otherwise see nonbinary or queer-identifying role models.

Johnson also urged parents to engage with theirs and other banned books. The author said many parents who assumed their children identified as heterosexual read "All Boys Aren't Blue" and realized their child could identify as a part of the LGBTQ+ community.

Curiosity. Tenacity. Empathy. Love.

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