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Authors Unite to Fight Book Bans: New Grassroots Group Mobilizes Writers to Defend the Freedom to Read

Authors Against Book Bans logo: Text in white monospaced typewriter font on a black background

The Authors Guild is delighted to partner with a new grassroots organization called Authors Against Book Bans (AABB) to mobilize authors and illustrators in the fight against the growing number of book bans and challenges across the country. Founded by bestselling and award-winning children’s and young adult authors David Levithan, Andrea Davis Pinkney, Maggie Tokuda-Hall, Sarah MacLean, Alan Gratz, Ellen Oh, Samira Ahmed, and Christina Soontornvat, AABB now has more than 1,500 members in nearly all 50 states.  The organization provides a framework for local organizing, coordinates national “ban alerts,” issues strategic calls to action, partners with other free speech groups, and supports educators, librarians, parents, students, and authors with talking points and other related needs.

AABB’s mission statement declares: “We stand united against the deeply unconstitutional movement to limit the freedom to read. We unequivocally support the availability of diverse voices on our library shelves, in our schools, and in our culture.” The group aims to “create a network of authors to work in conjunction with a variety of national-level organizations, as well as grassroots freedom-to-read organizations on a state-by-state level, for an effective, coordinated response against book bans and other threats to the freedom to read.”

The new organization complements the Guild’s legal work and other advocacy to fight book banning. The Guild has taken an active role in combating book bans in the courts, participating as a co-plaintiff in pending legal actions in Arkansas and Texas, with several more lawsuits in development. We have been successful thus far in these lawsuits, with courts issuing excellent decisions enjoining the enforcement of recently enacted laws that require or encourage book banning. AABB, through its armies of writers and illustrators, is taking on critical work at the local level in school board, library, and city council meetings to stop incidents of books being removed from schools and libraries.

The partnership between the two groups will enhance these efforts. For instance, AABB will alert the Guild about local meetings and challenges, often informed by librarians, parents, and teachers on the front lines, and we will reciprocate. We will then mobilize our respective members to participate, either by attending meetings or writing to relevant officials. In a recent message to New Jersey-based authors, AABB shared details about an upcoming school board meeting where a sex-education book was being challenged. We amplified the alert by encouraging authors to send emails defending the freedom to read and supporting the school librarian facing harassment for resisting book challenges.

The Guild will also work with AABB to create customizable email templates for banned authors to reach out to key decision-makers—an effective strategy in recent advocacy efforts. The collaboration will extend to joint activities with the Guild’s Florida and new Texas chapters, including compiling local candidates’ stances on book bans and free speech with Get Out the Vote events during Banned Books Week in September.

Participation in the group is open to authors, illustrators, audiobook narrators, and anyone whose work supports authors (e.g. those in publishing and bookselling). AABB aims to provide information for everyone fighting book bans, not just authors.

“As the threat to the freedom to read escalates, it is time to organize authors and illustrators so we can make a strategic effort to stop book bans wherever they are occurring, whether it is a challenge in a particular school district or legislation being introduced on a national, state, or local level,” AABB states. “We need ALL authors on board, whether your books have been banned or not because the fight for the freedom to read is every author’s fight.”

The group’s mission statement expresses particular concern about the “insidious targeting of BIPOC and LGBTQ+ stories, erasure of history, and silencing of voices that speak truthfully about essential human experiences” in the current wave of book bans. “The great power of literature is its ability to create empathy, foster self-empowerment, imbue knowledge, and enhance diversity of thought,” AABB states. “We will defend this power from those who seek to subvert it.”

Authors who decide to participate can get as involved as they like. From simply joining the AABB’s membership rolls to letter-signing campaigns to showing up for local meetings or actions, the level of commitment can vary. Since its inception in January 2024, Levithan said, “We’ve been involved in school board meetings and state legislation, both supporting the legislators who are sponsoring bills to fight book bans, or to try to prevent the book bans from happening, as well as protesting the legislators who are introducing bans.”

AABB is asking people who are interested in helping the fight against book bans and book challenges across the United States to add their names to their membership at

Stay tuned for updates and calls to action that will come your way through the Guild’s communication channels in the coming months.