The American Library Association this week announced that more than 25 major organizations, including a host of publishers and author and bookseller groups, have joined its Unite Against Book Bans campaign, an effort to help communities defend the freedom to read. The ALA launched the campaign in April to raise awareness about the surge in book bans and other legislation targeting the work of schools and libraries, with support from the Steve and Loree Potash Family Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

“Our partners and supporters are critical in moving the needle to ultimately bring an end to book bans," said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. “It’s time that policymakers understand the severity of this issue. ALA is taking the steps necessary to protect individuals’ access to information, but we can’t do this alone.”

Stone said it was a "a dangerous time" for those who provide access to reading materials. In its recently released State of America's Libraries report, ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom said it had tracked 729 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services, resulting in more than 1,597 individual book challenges or removals in 2021, the highest total since ALA began its tracking some 30 years ago. The vast majority of the challenges target authors of color and the LGBTQ community.

The groups joining the United Against Book Bans coalition include:

American Booksellers Association Free Expression Initiative
American Federation of Teachers
American Indian Library Association
Asian Pacific American Librarians Association
Association for Library and Information Science Education
Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services
Authors Guild
Baker & Taylor
Black Caucus of the American Library Association
Candlewick Press
Chinese American Librarians Association
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
Freedom to Read Foundation
Human Rights Campaign
Lerner Publishing Group
Macmillan Publishers
National Book Foundation
National Coalition Against Censorship
National Council of Teachers of English
Overdrive Inc.
Penguin Random House
Simon & Schuster
Society of American Archivists
Steve and Loree Potash Family Foundation
The Quarto Group

“Three-quarters of the 1,100 plus books currently banned in public schools in the United States have been written by authors of color, LGBTQ authors, or other traditionally marginalized voices," said Authors Guild CEO Mary Rasenberger, in a statement. "All of us who understand the importance of literature must ban together to fight this misguided, coordinated attack on our country’s literary culture. That is why we joined Unite Against Book Bans and continue to implement programs such as our recently launched Banned Books Club.”

In a statement, American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten also stressed the importance of fighting book bans.

“Book bans are about limiting kids’ freedom to read and teachers’ freedom to teach,” Weingarten said. “Parents agree—they want their children to learn the lessons of the past in an age-appropriate way, even as certain politicians try to turn classrooms into cultural battlefields and censor what gets taught. The majority of these bans target titles with racial and LGBTQ themes, cruelly erasing young readers’ lived experience. And while it’s uncomfortable to talk about tough issues like genocide, slavery and racism, reading honest history helps kids learn the good and the bad about our country and emerge as well-informed, engaged citizens of the world.”