What can you do to help fight censorship and book bannings?
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Reading banned books can help change your life, or even change the world. Author Ryan Estrada learned this in writing a number of graphic novels on the topic. In Occulted, he and Amy Rose wrote about how she grew up in a cult just down the road from Heaven's Gate and used banned books to escape. He's done dozens more such interviews for his upcoming books No Rules Tonight and Good Old Fashioned Korean Spirit.
In Banned Book Club, he and his wife Kim Hyun Sook wrote about how she was hunted down by the police and nearly escaped arrest and torture for reading banned books under a dictator in 1980s Korea and helped turn her country into a democracy. Read more about the history and writing of Banned Book Club.
Ryan will lead a conversation about how these and other lessons can be applied to readers today who are dealing with a whole new wave of book bans. The discussion will consider questions such as… What does it mean to ban a book? Why are books banned? Is there any situation where banning a book is a good idea? What can we gain from reading them?
Check out this recent article from School Library Journal discussing Banned Book Club and responses from its authors about attempts this year to ban it in Florida.
The creators see parallels between the book’s events and the political climate that led to its challenge. While this challenge was quickly reversed, that may not be the end of the story, they say.
“Being put back on shelves also puts a big target on our back,” says Estrada. “The organization [that is attempting to ban books] has a big database of titles, and ones that are not permanently banned are marked in bright red, considered a failure, and then made a priority for appeals.”
Indeed, Banned Book Club has already appeared on another list compiled by a group in Michigan.
“Narratives about rebelling young people who are not the default Caucasian or American are needed. These stories outside of America are so important and worthy of our attention and our admiration. Narratives about persons of color who get centered in their own stories for their own selves and their hopes for the future are necessary. Narratives about girls and women in student movements who get to be fully fleshed out individuals and not just love interests, secretaries or pushed to forgotten corners are valid and always worth a read.
As a graphic novel, Banned Book Club is the daring memoir that comes once a generation. There is nothing else like this on the bookshelves. This is a book with a message that is as eerily timely and necessary as the atmosphere present on the pages–feels a lot like the world today in fact.
As a learning tool, Banned Book Club is a genuine look into the lives of those young people who wanted more not just for themselves but for their country. Optimism colors the pages even when the plot reveals the worst for this brave crew of young adults and their comrades.
As a love letter to those times, Banned Book Club is an ode to the rebellion of reading and how change must be worked for continually, never having an ending, always present.”
About Ryan Estrada
Ryan Estrada is an artist, author and adventurer who travels the world telling stories. In addition to his original graphic novels, he's made comics for Star Trek, Popeye, Garfield, and Flash Gordon.