Civic Engagement

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On this page you will find resources to help you become civically engaged, including support for those who would like organize a protest, communicate with legislators, write representatives, city council members, or school administrators, and even mount a school board campaign. Start here if you are ready to round up fellow parents, caregivers, and other community members and get organized!

Watch Out!

The following Censorship Group Database records organizations across the country that have come together to attack intellectual freedom, and the freedom to read. Despite any spin the groups use to describe themselves, their main target is book banning through censorship. If you know of an organization (whether local, state, or national) that you do not see on this database, please submit it to Kelly Jensen at Bookriot by using THIS LINK.

Guides, Scripts, Messaging, and Communication

  1. Advocacy Toolkit: Censorship and Banned Books - Developed by the VA ACLU, this toolkit contains scripts, models, and examples for public commenting at school board meetings, letters to legislators, letters to the editor, model policies, and sample social media posts.

  2. Americans of Conscience Checklist - A fantastic resource for people who want to narrow their efforts and time on small but significant actions, the Americans of Conscience Checklist emails you with specific news items, scripts, action steps, and donation links to help you be a positive force in your community. From its description it includes "a list of clear, well-researched actions in support of things we can all agree on: democracy, voting access, equality for all Americans, basic respect for aspiring Americans; thank you notes for people advocating for these issues on both sides of the aisle, encouraging good news about the values we share." The minute you sign up, you'll receive an action plan checklist and an activism self-care plan, two crucial documents to help you manage your efforts and your health.

  3. American Library Association's State Legislative Toolkit - Use this collection of resources as a beginner's introduction to the following topics: preparing for a legislative session, building and maintaining a political advocacy structure, tracking legislation and media, building partnerships and coalitions, engaging with legislators, and addressing adverse legislation. Again, this link is a good starting point for you to familiarize yourself with this topics. It is not a deep-dive or all-inclusive stop.

  4. Be Heard! Protecting Your Protest Rights - Developed by the NCAC, this is a brief primer for K-12 students preparing to protest school policy and/or issues.

  5. Book Bans Affect Everyone - Here's How You Can Help - Alex is a librarian with both school and public library experience, an award-winning book critic, and published author. They outline specific steps you can take to push back against ban attempts in your community.

  6. Book Riot School Board Project - "Thanks to the help of dozens of volunteers and partners, we’re building a massive database of every school board, school board election, and related information for anyone to access. This simple database provides information that is challenging to find in isolation, let alone in a large, collective, searchable, and sortable way. Because this is the work of a small group of individuals with limited time, it is and will be a slow process, but we’ll release information in batches." [Description quoted from the source]

  7. CRT Forward Tracking Project - UCLA's Law School launched a database to monitor anti-CRT measures at local, state, and federal levels with information on the types of institutions targeted, and what the regulations entail. The overwhelming majority of these measures target K-12 schools and higher education.

  8. Email Your Reps Online Tool - This tool by EveryLibrary is a quick way to email your representatives. Provides a script and looks up your reps using your zip code.

  9. #FReadom Fighters How Tos - A Texas-based organization, #FReadom Fighters provide templates and how-tos for school board speeches, letters to editors, and letters to school administrators. They also include a helpful FAQ section that addresses common parent concerns and questions regarding school library book purchases that you can use when crafting your message.

  10. Hawaii Department of Education Student Bill of Rights - A robust and explicit description of the constitutional rights held by U. S. K-12 students, and a great model for other states.

  11. How to Fight Book Bans: A Tip Sheet for Students - A step by step guide including a downloadable .pdf that helps students become advocates for their own intellectual and reading freedoms. Particularly powerful is its dedicated section on dealing with the online harassment frequently faced by activists.

  12. Kid's Right to Read Action Kit for Students and Parents - Developed by the National Coalition Against Censorship, this resource includes background information on legal precedence, explanation of terminology, and sample letters to school officials for use by students and by parents.

  13. Public Voices for Public Schools - "A project of the Network for Public Education Action, an organization of over 350,000 public school advocates dedicated to the preservation and improvement of our public schools." [Description quoted from source]. PV4PS keeps you up-to-date on news items and information that impact public education, and also provides an action center to guide your efforts.

  14. Reading for Liberation - "A youth-led book club focusing on revolutionary texts and books about marginalized identities for marginalized communities."

  15. Red, Wine & Blue Parent Playbook - This resource will guide you through the steps needed to organize a group in your community, develop social media messaging, review the best ways to speak up at school board meetings, and run a school board campaign.

  16. Run for Something - An organization that will step in and help you run for political office (even local positions), packed with helpful resources.

  17. Stand Up/ Speak Up: A Guide for Youth Activists - Developed by the TN ACLU, the booklet is "a tool for young people who want to use their voices to create change in their schools and communities, outlining activism strategies and offering tips on how to overcome challenges and capitalize on opportunities." [Description quoted from source]

  18. The Tennessee Holler Example - A brief video of Taylor Lyons, a parent in Hamilton County, TN, and one of the leaders in Moms for Social Justice.

  19. Toolkit for Organizing Your Community - Developed by Race Forward, this toolkit provides steps for putting together a community organization, guidance on developing campaigns, message guidance, templates, worksheets, and other tools.

State Legislative Action Tracker

We are tracking legislative actions by state in the spreadsheet below. If you have a legislative action you would like for us to include, please submit it using the State Legislative Action Google Form.

Other Bill Tracker tools available include: a) FastDemocracy, a tool available both in a free and paid version, that allows you to track bills using filters to narrow your results; b) EveryLibrary Legislation of Concern, a list of bills by state that negatively impact libraries and library systems; and c) EveryLibrary Good News Legislation, a list of bills by state that positively impact libraries and library systems.

Red, Wine & Blue also maintains a detailed book ban tracker, including a button for submitting information you would like to share.

State Legislative info

Key National Organizations and Efforts

  1. Civic Season - A project by a large coalition of museums, historical societies, and historical sites that strives to promote civic engagement through U.S. history and local events. A wonderful resource to help identify local groups and efforts that share similar missions.

  2. Defense of Democracy - An organization that through a bipartisan lens, advocates "for legislators, educators, and administrators who will work to maintain communities as well as a public education system that supports and enhances our shared experiences regardless of religious beliefs, cultural background, or sexual orientation." This org also provides weekly trainings for community groups who would like to establish a local chapter.

  3. Foundation for Individual Rights in Education - A non-partisan organization that aims to "defend and sustain the individual rights of students and faculty members at America’s colleges and universities. These rights include freedom of speech, freedom of association, due process, legal equality, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience — the essential qualities of liberty." Begin by exploring its High School Network collection of resources for parents, students, and educators.

  4. National Coalition Against Censorship - "Every generation of Americans faces new and significant challenges to free expression. For almost 50 years, NCAC has acted as a first responder to protect this freedom, which is both a fundamental human right and a keystone of democracy in the ever-changing American nation. We promote freedom of thought and inquiry and oppose censorship. When controversy occurs, we encourage and facilitate dialogue between divergent voices and perspectives, including those that have historically been silenced." The coalition is comprised of 57 national non-for-profit organizations all linked here. You'll want to start with their Book Challenge Resource Center.

  5. National Council of Teachers of English - "Through collaboration and community, shared stories and shared experiences, NCTE supports teachers and their students in classrooms, on college campuses, and in online learning environments." NCTE houses a robust Intellectual Freedom Center with resources for parents and classroom teachers.

  6. PEN America - "PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible." Play close attention to their effort, PEN Across America, and its list of regional chapters and activities organized by state.

  7. Race Foward - "Founded in 1981, Race Forward brings systemic analysis and an innovative approach to complex race issues to help people take effective action toward racial equity. Founded in 2002, the Center for Social Inclusion catalyzed community, government, and other institutions to dismantle structural racial inequity and create equitable outcomes for all. Race Forward is home to the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE), a national network of local government working to achieve racial equity and advance opportunities for all." Race Forward is a treasure chest of toolkits, resources, free trainings, and local support.

  8. Red Wine & Blue - "Since 2016, women across the suburbs have been gathering— first to lament, but then to figure out how to change the world together. We are building on this sisterhood, and creating new momentum— with digital content, media, and tools that empower our unique voices and networks." RWB recently launched a powerful project that includes weekly online trainings: Book Ban Busters.

  9. We Need Diverse Books - "We Need Diverse Books™ is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and a grassroots organization of children’s book lovers that advocates essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people." WNDB not only includes programs for parents, students, and educators, it also has book purchasing guides, awards, and even a fantastic app to help you find a new story. Explore their robust list of resources.

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