Book bans have been on the rise since early 2021, with significant increases in recorded instances each year since. Freedom to read advocates, library workers, educators, publishers, and celebrities have lent their voices, time, and energy into not only raising awareness about the problem but also into ending it.
On a recent episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live, beloved book lover LeVar Burton shared a video to help in spreading the word. Taking after the opening sequence to Reading Rainbow, the video highlights books that have been challenged throughout recent American history.
While not all of the titles included in the sequence are those under fire now–the books being targeted are primarily by and about people of color and queer people–the reach of this video is important, as is the visual element showcasing how book bans immediately and directly impact young people. Moreover, the video emphasizes the absurdity of book bans in general. This is seen in highlighting the recent challenge to a title in Alabama because the author’s last name is Gay.
Burton has been an advocate for the freedom to read for generations. In recent years, he served as the honorary chair of the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week and joined a coalition of other celebrities to sign a letter demanding an end to censorship in schools and libraries. Burton also was an executive producer on the documentary “The Right to Read.”
In a partnership with MoveOn.org, Burton has a line of shirts available for anti-censorship advocates. You can grab a “LeVar Burton Says Read Banned Books” t-shirt here.