Teens from the seventh to eleventh grades were eager to begin their first Teen Banned Book Club meeting. The current book banning by ultra-conservatives was reminiscent of Nazis burning 25,000 books on May 10, 1933. Back then, they burned books by Jewish authors. But there were other authors whose books were burned, too. They included “Ernest Hemingway and Helen Keller.”
Young people in Kutztown, Pennsylvania took on the book-banning experience and succeeded in turning it into something powerful. They created the Teen Banned Book Club.
The Nazis’ book-burning was extensive, according to PBS:
‘On May 10, 1933, university students in 34 university towns across Germany burned over 25,000 books. The works of Jewish authors like Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud went up in flames alongside blacklisted American authors such as Ernest Hemingway and Helen Keller, while students gave the Nazi salute.’
But in Kutztown, they held bi-weekly discussions focused on classic novels and current hot topics. They talk about “challenged stories, discussing both classic novels and current hot topics,” according to The Reading Eagle.
Eighth grader Joslyn Diffenbaugh (14) founded the book club and said:
‘I wanted to make sure teens have access to books that they can personally relate to or have interest in and not to let groups in our community dictate what we can and cannot read.’
Her mother, Lisa, helped establish the club and commented:
‘After seeing the proposed book banning in Texas and the experience in Central York School District, I became concerned about censorship in our own community. Unfortunately, we are seeing a group in our community begin to propose book banning during our school board meetings.’
Her mother continued, saying the effort resulted in giving kids a chance to “freely discuss their own opinions without censorship:”
‘This club gives teens the opportunity to read books that speak to them and be able to freely discuss their own opinions without censorship. It also gives them the opportunity to look at the history of book banning and relate it to what is happening today.’
Lisa was excited about the positive national and international “support:”
‘It’s so exciting to see the level of support we are receiving nationally and internationally. It’s nice to see Kutztown creating buzz around something so positive showing what a supportive and inclusive community we can be.’
Then, Joslyn added:
‘I have had a lot of teenagers reach out to me excited about this club. I am hoping this club grows to include teens from other school districts. It’s been cool working with Jordan and being in Firefly. I really want to thank Firefly for being so supportive.’
Jordan said the Teen Banned Book Club was about current books:
‘We plan to focus on the topics that got each book we will be reading “banned,’”both older and more recent books, how they relate to the story and the past and present of our country’s social issues, which we hope will help our members further develop critical thinking skills in regards to how fiction can both be a reflection of the reality of the time it was written as well as how it can affect reality.’
Lisa continued, saying that “donations continue to come in to fund the books:”
‘We continue to be surprised by the level of support this club has received. Donations continue to come in to fund the books for the club from within and outside our community. They are also receiving a donation from a book drive for Central York School District.’
Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.
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