Published: Oct. 25, 2023

A Panel on Book Bans and the Right to Read in K-8 Schools and Libraries

Oct 25, 2023 | 5:30 - 7:30pm | Boulder Public Library - Canyon Theatre

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Part of the 5th Annual Children's Book Festival, partnered with the CU Boulder's School of Education.

In response to the alarming surge in challenges to literature, the Center for Humanities & the Arts (CHA) is taking a stand. The CHA is co-sponsoring a panel titled "Book Censorship and Honoring the Right to Read in K-8 Schools and Libraries" at the upcoming Children's Book Festival. The event aims to shed light on the critical issue of book bans and the preservation of academic freedom in educational institutions.

We invite teachers, students, families, librarians and all who are concerned about book bans and challenges to join us for the panel on Book Censorship and Honoring the Right to Read in K-8 Schools and Libraries. This panel event will take place on October 25, from 5:30pm - 7:30pm at the Canyon Theater & Gallery - Boulder Public Library (Main Library). Opportunity to purchase the festival authors’ books, signing, and a reception will follow the panel.

Event Hosts

This event is in partnership with the CU Boulder's School of EducationBoulder Book Store, Boulder Public Library, and the CU Boulder Center for Humanities and the Arts (CHA).


Adam Crawley

Adam Crawley, PhD, Assistant Teaching Professor of Literacy Studies, CU Boulder


Adam Crawley, Ph.D. is an Assistant Teaching Professor of Literacy Studies in the School of Education at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Prior to joining CU-Boulder, Adam was faculty at the University of Texas at Austin and Oklahoma State University. He earned his doctorate at the University of Georgia and was an elementary teacher in public schools for twelve years. Adam brings experience supporting children's book award programs and conferences and serves as the faculty co-chair of the Children's Book Festival sponsored by the School of Education and Boulder Book Store. His teaching, research, and service focus on the use and censorship of culturally diverse children's literature in elementary contexts, especially related to LGBTQ+ representations.

Jo Currier

Jo Currier, Local Parent and Teacher


Jo Currier is an accomplished educator holding a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies and a Master of Arts in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Currently pursuing an EdD in Educational Studies: Innovation and Reform, Jo brings over five years of valuable classroom experience to our panel. As a local teacher and devoted parent with children attending schools in the community, she is committed to bridging the opportunity gap while enhancing equitable access for young learners and their families.

David Farnan

David Farnan, Director of Boulder Public Library


David Farnan is Director of Boulder Public Library.  He has been a public librarian for nearly 30 years. His work is guided by the fundamental principles of librarianship and he remains motivated to create a free and open public space that is welcoming to all, an unwavering commitment to ensuring the privacy of the individual's use of the library, and the belief that it is the public library's responsibility to resist censorship in all its forms. He believes the best way to demonstrate our belief in the freedom of speech is to exercise that right.

Andrea Wang

Andrea Wang, Children's Book Author


Andrea Wang is an acclaimed author of children’s books. Her picture book Watercress was awarded the Caldecott Medal, a Newbery Honor, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, and a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor, among other accolades. Her other books, The Many Meanings of Meilan, Luli and the Language of Tea, Magic Ramen, and The Nian Monster, have also received awards and starred reviews. Her work explores culture, creative thinking, and identity. She lives in Colorado with her family. For more information about Andrea and her books, visit

Questions Addressed

  • Censorship can exist in different forms, such as self-censorship and external censorship. What advice or input do you have for people who self-censor - whether due to fear or their own personal beliefs?
  • Is censorship ever appropriate?
  • As educators (and parents), is our choice to not use a text in a classroom the same thing as censorship? How do we make thoughtful choices about what to bring into the classroom balanced with not denying access to students?
  • We’ve named this session “Censorship Unbound”, with unbound as both a nod to a text’s physical construction (e.g., binding) but also the rampant and seemingly unrestrained censorship wildly taking place. Some sites have processes in place for when someone wants to challenge a book, but these may not always be followed. What is the approved process/policy for when people want to challenge a book? What is the process/policy for reviewing those challenges?
  • Now that vendors are also on the hook for providing "scandalous" or banned topics in some states (Texas, Florida, Georgia), we (teacher librarians) have discovered vendors are self censoring across the board. For example, the ever-favorite Scholastic Book Fair is now presenting diverse titles in their own display case, which is an opt-in case at the book fair. And this opt-in is not advertised. So book fairs are showing up at schools without an entire case worth of children's books. Can you address how to keep diverse characters, diverse perspectives, and diverse authored books in front of consumers at book fairs? How do we encourage and support vendors to keep these titles in the regular offerings for states without bans?
  • What has led to the current uptick in requests for book bans & challenges?
  • Given your role as a [teacher, parent, librarian, author], what final advice or thoughts would you like to share for people as they respond to and navigate censorship?

Liberty, Freedom, Democracy: The Fight for Ideas

    liberty, freedom, democracy - the fight for ideas logo

    This event is part of the CHA's programming for the 2023-24 academic year on the theme of “Liberty, Freedom, Democracy: The Fight for Ideas".The association of the words 'liberty,' 'freedom,' and 'democracy' with the United States and have been politically weaponized in recent years to imply that certain people and ideologies are more American than others.

    The CHA will investigate the true meanings of the terms "Liberty", "Freedom", "Democracy", particularly in the context of US civil rights and the erosion of rights by the Supreme Court. We will raise questions about the definition of "freedom" in terms of being who you want to be or being free from oppression, and the global threat to democracy, especially after the events of January 6, 2021, when the peaceful transition of power in the United States was in jeopardy. The question of what makes a nation a “democracy” and who “democracy” is for, are among the considerations that the CHA wishes to take up through this theme.