Since Florida passed the Parental Rights in Education Act, also known as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill in March 2022, states across the country have followed suit, banning books from classrooms. The bans often target volumes that contain themes of race, sexuality, and intersectionality.
In Washington, D.C public libraries and bookstores do what they can to ensure children have access to the wide array of books that are now harder to find in other places. Peoples Book in the Washington suburb of Takoma Park, Maryland decided to take it a step further.
During banned books week, Oct. 1-7, the store partnered with a mobile bookstore in Sarasota, Florida called Shelf Indulgence by letting customers purchase copies of banned titles to be shipped to the Sunshine State.
Megan Bormet co-founded People’s Book with her husband four months ago. She hoped to provide the community with an easily accessible bookstore that has something for everyone.
As a former primary school teacher and reading coach, Bormet has a passion for providing a pathway to literacy.
“I just feel so strongly that when you are learning how to read when you are in primary school, you are developing your identity, and so having a reading identity is so important,” Bormet said. “To be able to see yourself reflected in books, be able to step into other people’s shoes that you might not experience is so important when you’re developing that reading identity. So the fact that some children are not going to have that experience is really devastating.”
Peoples Book shift manager Jacob Isaacs stresses the importance of local bookstores when legislation hinders reading choices.
“When you hear about not just school districts or libraries banning books, but also booksellers, like Scholastic, no longer carrying banned titles in their book fairs,” Isaacs said, “then you really realize how much of a difference it does make to actually be able to provide those books that people want to read, that people need to read.”
The owners say that they are working on providing prohibited books across state lines year-round instead of just for a week, and anyone who’d like to support them can visit their catalog on Bookshop.Org or check out Shelf Indulgence.
“It should be a basic right that kids in any classroom have the ability to see diverse books brand new books in their classroom to get excited about reading,” Bormet remarked.