Read With Love-Ins
Whether you have been fighting censorship efforts in your area or you want to demonstrate that your community values accurate and inclusive education for all students, you can host a “Read With Love-In."
In direct contrast to efforts to remove access to books and to protest children’s story hours, PFLAG encourages folks to #ReadWithLove and make more books about all kinds of topics and people available to schools and libraries. “Read With Love-Ins” are peaceful gatherings of students, parents, grandparents and community leaders to raise awareness about how reading books about all kinds of topics and people are great ways to help kids learn about the world and thrive.
What happens at a Read With Love-In?
LGBTQ+ history is rife with peaceful demonstrations to raise awareness about discrimination affecting our community, from “zaps” to marches to “die-ins.” A Read With Love-In event is yours to design. You might host a public reading rally with speakers who read from banned books. You might host a community gathering where every participant quietly reads from the same banned book or a selection of banned books. No matter what the action looks like, the key is to make your purpose known, so even passersby easily know why you’re doing it — and have chance to get involved, too. Ideas include:
- Handouts with information on what’s happening in your community to ban or weaken education, (i.e., Bans of “symbols” like Black Lives Matter flags or safe space posters, bathroom bans, curriculum bans, trans-inclusive sports bans, and book bans all count. So do so-called “parents’ rights” policies.). Include a link to sign up and learn more.
- Petition or letter to decision-makers — Make sure to collect name, address, email and phone number, and include a check box to receive news and information via email/text.
- Notes or postcards of support –Let folks know who will get them and how they will be delivered, (e.g., librarians, school teachers or staff, school officials, elected officials, etc.)
- Buy a book, Donate a book: Post or distribute a banned book wishlist and the shipping info for a specific library or school/district.
- Chapter meeting info.
Where should I hold a Read With Love-In?
Location matters, and the options are endless:
- Public parks where you can use a pavilion or set up lawn chairs and blankets – maybe a nearby playground for kids.
- Community centers, libraries, or other government buildings (permit may be required) in high visibility areas.
- A like minded business that would let you sit outside with lots of traffic driving.
- A visible location outside your local school board meeting where you can quietly read as people enter.
Rather plan an indoor event? Find a friendly restaurant with a large private room or ask to reserve a section. Bonus – food and drink available while you read. Maybe it turns into a banned book discussion.
Want to start more low key?
We know that not everyone will have the time to organize a public event. Consider inviting friends for a Banned Book Club! Pick a date, select a banned book, invite your besties and host a book club. Who would turn down a nice evening with friends, a few appetizers, a few beverages, and inspiring conversation around amazing literature.
But no matter what – take those photos and post about your event on social media. The goal is to affirm that in this community, we support the freedom to learn.
How do you get people to attend?
Create language for social media posts and email invites framing the read-in as a positive celebration of books.
Create a cute graphic to use with your invite! Have a friend with great design skills? Ask them for help – it is a good way to get more people involved. Or you can do it yourself – sites like Canva make it easy. Then post on social media, send directly to your friends and ask everyone in your network to spread the word.
Your invite should include the details of the read-In, a way to RSVP such as Sign Up Genius and the request to bring a banned book. Make it easy by linking to lists of recently challenged books.
When you’re just a few days out from your event, make sure you’ve got your bases covered:
- Send everyone who RSVPs a reminder a few days before and be sure to give them details on what to bring, where to park and any other logistical info they need.
- Make sure to encourage them to bring homemade signs supporting accurate history and the importance of books.
- *Important!* Designate someone to be your photographer for the day! You will want to capture lots of amazing photos and videos of the event. Use them afterward to create social media posts highlighting the impactful event that you put together.
On the day of, arrive early with a fully charged phone to communicate any last-minute needs to your networks. If the media does show up, be sure to introduce yourself and direct them to individuals for interviews or answer questions yourself.
What about local media?
Want to really raise awareness in your community? See if you can get local newspapers or news stations to cover your read-in.
Research the name of local reporters who cover education issues and email them the details. You can also write up a media advisory to send to all local media outlets. Don’t wait until the last minute – give them about a week’s notice of your event.
What is Banned Books Week and why is PFLAG participating?
Banned Books Week (Oct.1-7) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community – librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types – in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.
PFLAG National is a member of the Banned Books Week coalition as well as the Book Ban Busters coalition, to help ensure LGBTQ+ people and their families have the tools, resources, and support they need to fight censorship in their community.