The “Banned Bookmobile” tour, organized by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and The New Republic (TNR), is making its way to Texas from October 25th to 28th. The tour seeks to shine a spotlight on banned books and advocate for the necessity of educational freedom.
According to a media advisory, this event will feature representatives from AFT and TNR, who will be traveling through Texas in a “banned bookmobile.” Their mission: To celebrate reading and emphasize the vital need for students to have the freedom to read, for educators and librarians to have the freedom to teach, and for authors to have the freedom to write without censorship.
The tour has been prompted by recent developments in various states, including Texas, where legislation targeting certain book titles is being considered or passed. This has ignited a nationwide debate about book censorship in educational settings.
According to a recent analysis by PEN America, a nonprofit organization dedicated to championing free speech, Texas has taken the lead in banning books from school libraries, surpassing all other states in the nation. PEN America found 3,362 instances of book banning at K-12 schools during the 2022-23 school year, up 33% from the previous year.
The state’s targets have included books focusing on race, racism, abortion, and LGBTQ representation and issues.
In March, The Houston Chronicle compiled a detailed list of the challenges that were being made to school libraries and revealed that since the term “critical race theory” became widely utilized to oppose teaching about racism, the labor movement, gender identity, and sexual orientation, challenges, and bans sharply skyrocketed. In 2017, only five books were challenged and none were removed. By 2021, the challenges had reached 29 and the removals 19.
The “Banned Books Tour 2023” commenced on October 1st, coinciding with the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week, which ran from October 1st to 7th, 2023. In collaboration with House of SpeakEasy, The New Republic is steering the “banned bookmobile” through states that have witnessed a surge in book censorship, including Florida, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia
The Texas leg of the tour will include stops in Dallas, Austin, and Houston, where the banned bookmobile will distribute over 5,000 free books, including a mix of both unbanned and banned titles.
The tour’s goal is to raise awareness of the significance of the freedom to read in communities across the United States.
- Dallas, Texas (October 25th): The event will take place from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at The Sound at Cypress Waters, 3111 Olympus Blvd. Dallas. The prime time for press is around 5 p.m.
- Austin, Texas (October 26th): Join the event from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Reverie Books, 5330 Menchaca Rd Ste D, Austin. The optimal time for press coverage is around 5 p.m.
- Houston, Texas (October 28th): The tour concludes in Houston, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Kindred Stories, 2304 Stuart St, Houston, TX 77004. The most opportune time for press coverage is around 2 p.m.
You can find the full schedule here.