Reading Rebels | Lamb County, TX

Unite Against Book Bans Toolkit

Stand Together for Intellectual Freedom: Protect the right to read and access diverse perspectives in your community!

A small but vocal group is driving the current flood of book bans in school and public libraries across the country. It's important to counter those voices by uniting in support of the freedom to read in your local community. How can you and your community unite against book bans?

Unite Against Book Bans has put together this action toolkit to help you get started. The toolkit and related content has been reproduced here with permission.

Are you part of an organization? You can find additional resources to amplify and support the Unite Against Book Bans campaign in the UABB Toolkit PDF.

How To Talk About Book Bans

Below are a set of talking points which should be customized to reflect your own voice. These can be tailored to talk about a specific book that is being challenged or used more generally to oppose book bans. The points can be used for writing a letter to your local school or library board, your state legislators and governor, or as the basis of your public comments given to any elected bodies. They can also be used to help you draft a letter to the editor of your local newspaper or in speaking with members of the media. All of these actions are important ways you can help have an impact on the issue of book bans.

Reading is a foundational skill, critical to future learning and to exercising our democratic freedoms.
We can trust individuals to make their own decisions about what they read and believe.
Parents have the right to guide their children's reading, but parents should not be making decisions for other parents' children. Specifically, a small group of parents should not dictate what books other people's children are allowed to read.
Books are tools for understanding complex issues. Limiting young people's access to books does not protect them from life's complex and challenging issues.
Please reject any efforts to ban books and allow individuals and parents to make the decision about what they can read and believe.

Removing and banning books from public libraries is a slippery slope to government censorship and the erosion of our country's commitment to freedom of expression.

Young people deserve to see themselves reflected in a library's books.
Visit to learn more and to join our efforts.

Answers To Common Questions About Book Bans

Contact Decision Makers

Public input is very important for school and library board members, trustees, and state legislators. In almost all localities, these are elected positions, and many local elected officials serve in either 2- or 4-year terms. These elected officials, therefore, take the views of residents and voters seriously, and seek to represent the voices of their community.

Find Your Officials

Local Officials

To identify who sits on your local school or library board, search online for your municipality’s or county’s name and “school board” or “library board.” From there, most websites will include the email address and/or other contact information for each of the board members, as well as a general email account for the board. You may alternatively seek to call your local library or school to ask for the contact information of these officials. We recommend that you include all of the members of the board in the email or letter that you submit.

State and Local Representatives

Many state legislatures also provide an online search tool to identify who your state senator(s) and state representative(s) or delegate(s) are based on your address. Search to find your state officials.

How to Tailor Your Anti-Book Ban Message as a Concerned Community Member and Make an Impact at Board Meetings

Use the talking points provided above to customize your message to these elected officials. Your letter or comments will be strongest if you are succinct, while also demonstrating your concern over book banning efforts and your connection to this issue (i.e. as a parent, as a student, as an educator, as a local business owner, as an engaged community member, as a librarian, as a reader, etc.). 

You may also choose to attend your next school board or library board meeting to speak against book bans. Most websites of these local boards will include the agendas of upcoming meetings where public comment is allowed. Note that public comments during these meetings are usually limited to 2-3 minutes per speaker, so keep your remarks brief and to the point. Please remember to be respectful and refrain from making ad hominem or personal attacks against anyone who disagrees with you.

Candidate Questionnaire

If you're involved in a local political organization, trade union, advocacy group, or another influential community organization, a candidate questionnaire is a great tool to help assess local candidates running for office and their position on book bans. Just be sure to consult federal and state election laws that may govern or limit your organization's political activity first!

We recommend sending the questionnaire as early as possible in the election cycle to all declared candidates. Set a firm deadline for their campaign to respond (ideally a minimum of six weeks prior to Election Day).

Download the sample UABB questionnaire!

Petitioning Decision Makers

If a book challenge or attempted ban occurs in your community, one way to demonstrate widespread opposition to removal of that book is to petition the person or group that is responsible for deciding whether the book will stay on the shelves. This can be a school administrator or board, a library board, a town council, etc.

It's important to note that petitions alone are generally not enough to change the minds of decision makers. When combined with other activities, however, they can be powerful in demonstrating wide support for (or opposition to) a particular issue and growing your base of advocates.

Create, Circulate, and Successfully Deliver a Petition


  • Identify the decision maker(s) and address the petition to that/those person(s).
  • Keep your statement short, factual, and end with a specific request for action, e.g., We urge you to keep [title of book] in the library’s collection.
  • If filing a paper petition, include your statement at the top of each page. Clearly state your concern and what you would like decision makers to do.
  • Make sure that there is adequate space to sign.
  • Keep your statement short, factual, and end with a specific request for action, e.g., We urge you to keep [title of book] in the library’s collection.
  • Keep your statement short, factual, and end with a specific request for action, e.g., We urge you to keep [title of book] in the library’s collection.


  • Focus on collecting signatures from the constituents of the targeted decision makers. It can be harmful to your cause if the majority of voices are from a different community.
  • Plan your signature gathering and ask others to assist in collecting signatures.
  • For paper petitions, set up in high traffic areas, e.g., near grocery stores, public transportation stops, or in front of public buildings. Use signage to identify your cause. Consider hosting multiple events at different times of day.
  • For online petitions, use email and social media to reach large numbers of supporters.
  • A large number of signatures is necessary for impact. Set a goal based on the size of the constituency.


  • Consider timing. Deliver the petition before a decision is made. Set an internal deadline of at least 3-5 days prior to the anticipated decision to allow for any logistical delays and for your delivery of the petitions to have the strongest impact.
  • There are many online tools that can make creating a petition easy, e.g., Keep in mind, however, that it is most effective to deliver a petition to the decision makers in person, at a public event, with physical copies of your petition.
  • Let the local press know that you will be presenting a petition. Have a copy of your statement ready to share with them. Notify the press the day before you plan to deliver the petitions and again on the morning of your delivery.
  • Bring a group of supporters to join you. Identify your spokesperson and make a statement as you present the petition. Make a copy of the original document before presenting it.

Contact Media

Writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper is another way to have an impact on the conversation around book bans. Search online for the name of your local newspaper along with “submit a letter to the editor.” Those instructions should provide you with an email address, mailing address, or a web form where you can submit your letter.

Tips For Writing A Letter To The Editor

Although not a requirement, your letter will have the best chance of being published if you:

  • Respond directly to a related article or column recently published in that outlet
  • Reference local events or activity, such as efforts to ban a specific book or set of books at a public library or school in the community, or comments made by a public official.
  • Refrain from making any personal attacks or any ax-grinding comments.

Use the suggested talking points at the top of this toolkit to customize your letter.

Remember that most newspapers will limit the length of letters they choose to publish. Typically, those limits are approximately 200-300 words. Before you submit your letter, be sure to research any word limits or other submission requirements - and stick to them. When you submit your letter, be sure to include:

  • Your name
  • The town or locality where you reside
  • Your email address and telephone number
  • Any other required information from the publication

After you've submitted your letter, you may choose to call the newspaper to confirm your submission has been received. If you call, ask to speak to the opinion page editor. If you're able to speak to that individual or if you leave a voicemail, be courteous and respectful.

Share your progress!

Once you’ve taken these steps, share your work with others! Be sure to tag #UniteAgainstBookBans on social media or email to let us know what actions you have taken!

Grassroots Organizing

This can be a difficult issue to work on alone, so consider all of your networks and connections in your community to unite with: family, friends, organizations you're involved, etc. Research shows that opposition to book bans is widespread and you will likely find support within your community to unite against such efforts.

The talking points at the top of this toolkit can be used to have one-on-one or group conversations with organizations you belong to – parent organizations, civic groups, faith communities, book clubs, non-profits, sports leagues, and more. If you represent an organization, contact other organizations that might work in coalition with you.

Encourage fellow supporters to sign up with the Unite Against Book Bans campaign and to take the steps outlined in this toolkit.

Efforts to censor or ban books are increasing across the nation, so it's important to be prepared in case a book challenge occurs in your community. Timely action can help prevent a ban from taking place. Mobilize your community and prevent a book ban attempt at your public library or school district by following these recommendations: