We have a right to read and learn free from censorship.

This year's Banned Books Week in Iowa marks an increased number of challenged and banned books in our public schools and community libraries.

Every year, the ACLU highlights Banned Books Week, from September 22-28, that celebrates the freedom to read and calls attention to attempts to censor books in our state.

Attempts to censor books are increasing. The American Library Association reported that in 2023, there was an unprecedented number of book ban attempts across the country. That included Iowa, where in 2023 Gov. Kim Reynolds signed SF 496, a wide-ranging law with vague, problematic language that requires public schools K-12 to remove all books that have "descriptions or visual depictions of a sex act.” The law also prohibits materials relating to LGBTQ people or issues K-6, so some schools have removed books with any LBGTQ references as well. As a result, most of the targeted books are by or about Black or LGBTQ people—effectively erasing the history and lived experiences of our communities.

Fortunately, for the moment, the law is temporarily blocked.

The bottom line: A person can decide that they don't want to read a certain book. They can decide that they don't want their child to read that book. But they can't decide that an entire school or town can't read that book.