Right to Learn: Fighting Book Bans and Censorship

October 1, 2023 (All day)
November 9, 2023 (All day)

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We are in an era of censorship where loud and activated groups are pushing local community library boards, school boards, and other public bodies to ban books, events, and other protected expression based on its content – content typically positively affirming marginalized voices and identities including LGBTQ+ people and BIPOC communities. As this movement to censor content continues to pop up in Illinois and across the country, we want to provide you with the tools to advocate in your community to push back against suppression of our fundamental principles of free speech and intellectual freedom.

Please join the ACLU of Illinois this Fall for our Right to Learn: Fighting Book Bans and Censorship campaign by attending an event, learning more about book bans and content censorship, and taking action in your own communities. And, there will be opportunities to hear directly from community members, authors, and issue experts during this campaign! Together, we will explore how localized of an issue book banning and content censorship can be – and how it can differ in each community or state – and how each of us can be advocates in our own communities.

We encourage you to check out our Speaking at Public Forum Workshop Guide for resources on how to advocate at public meetings.


Beyond the Pages: Defending Your Right to Learn | Panel and Workshop

Sunday, October 1, 2023 | Unitarian Universalist Church of Urbana-Champaign, 309 W Green St, Urbana, IL 61801 | 1:30 – 3:30 PM

Please join the ACLU of Illinois and our Champaign County Chapter for a thought-provoking two-hour panel and workshop. Delve into the critical issues of book bans and content censorship with a panel of issue area experts and community members, followed by an empowering workshop on effective public speaking at local meetings. We will also touch on Illinois’ recent Banned Books law, the battle for free expression, and how you can make a difference by using your voice to defend the First Amendment.

Hear directly from: Kevin Fee, Senior Special Litigation Counsel, ACLU of Illinois; Professor Emily Knox, Associate Professor, School of Information Sciences University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign; Cynthia M. Robinson, Executive Director, Illinois Library Association; Kathy Rodems, English Teacher, University Laboratory High School at UIUC; and Ed Yohnka, Director of Communications and Public Policy, ACLU of Illinois

Literary Liberties: Banned Books Week Read-Ins

Week of October 1-7, 2023 | Various Locations in Illinois!

Join the ACLU of Illinois over Banned Books Week for read-ins across the state where book lovers will gather at local community spaces to read from their favorite banned books, shedding light on the book banning and censorship challenges faced both in Illinois and across the nation. Immerse yourself in challenged literature while learning about the evolving landscape of censorship.

Join us in Carbondale (Monday, 10/2), O’Fallon (Tuesday, 10/3), Peoria (Wednesday, 10/4), Naperville (Thursday, 10/5), and Normal (Thursday, 10/5) for these read-in events!

Banned Books Across the Midwest: A Conversation Among ACLU Affiliates

Thursday, October 12, 2023 | Virtual Event Zoom | 12:00 PM -1:00 PM CT/1:00 PM – 2:00 PM ET

Join the ACLU of Illinois, ACLU of Indiana, ACLU of Missouri, ACLU of Nebraska, and ACLU of Wisconsin for a virtual conversation as we discuss the wide range of censorship facing the Midwest, from book bans at the local level to statewide initiatives to censor and erase marginalized identities, and how you can play a role in activating your community to push back against book bans and other forms of content censorship.

Hear directly from: Katie Blair, Director of Advocacy and Public Policy, ACLU of Indiana; Justice Grau, Director of Community Engagement, ACLU of Wisconsin; Angela Inzano, General Civil Liberties Policy and Advocacy Strategist, ACLU of Illinois; Scout Richters, Policy Director, ACLU of Nebraska; and Anthony Rothert, Director of Integrated Advocacy, ACLU of Missouri!




Book Talk Featuring Jessamine Chan Author of The School for Good Mothers – presented by the Next Generation Society of the ACLU

Thursday, November 9, 2023 | Haymarket House, 800 W Buena Ave, Chicago, IL 60613 | 6:00 – 8:00 PM

Explore the world of "The School for Good Mothers" with author Jessamine Chan and the Next Generation Society of the ACLU. Join us for a lively book talk featuring Jessamine and ACLU-IL Senior Supervising Attorney Chaundre S. White that dives into the themes of privacy, the family regulation system, reproductive rights, and more. Get insights from ACLU experts, engaging in open conversations that celebrate literature while tackling crucial questions about intellectual freedom, censorship, and the role of government in our private lives. Copies of “The School for Good Mothers” will be available for purchase and there will be an opportunity to have your book signed by Jessamine Chan. Please note that masks are required during the book talk portion of this event and refreshments will be served following the discussion.

Workshop Guide:

In communities across Illinois, small, vocal groups are trying to limit First Amendment rights and silence marginalized voices by pressuring local public bodies, like library and school boards, to censor books, events, and expression based on content. Such government censorship is unconstitutional – together we must push back against these attacks on our rights.

Local elected officials must protect First Amendment rights, even when only small, but active groups attend public meetings, often claiming to represent the whole community. In order to defend against this movement of censorship, we must attend and speak out whenever these issues pop up in our communities, as attacks on marginalized communities can set dangerous precedents for all of us. The following guide was made to empower you to attend public forums and confidently voice your opinions – no matter the issue. The talking points included in the guide can be shared with friends, family, and neighbors to build solidarity in protecting free speech in your community.

Workshop Guide


  • Share a message of gratitude for librarians hard at work safeguarding access to diverse stories and protecting our right to read free from censorship.
  • Sign up for ACLU of Illinois Action Alerts and People Power to stay up to date on ways to take action:
  • An informed activist base is a strong and integral foundation for our work. Follow us on social media, and share important updates with your networks: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
  • If you are able, please consider making a donation to the ACLU of Illinois today!
  • Go to your local library and sign-up for a library card today!