PEN America Tracks 'Educational Intimidation' Bills in New Report | News Bites

PEN America has documented more than 400 state bills the organization calls "educational intimidation legislation" and the impact the laws have had; SCBWI launches a new award for books showing compassion to animals; and more in this edition of News Bites.

PEN America has documented more than 400 state bills the organization calls "educational intimidation legislation" and the impact the laws have had; SCBWI launches a new award for books showing compassion to animals; and more in this edition of News Bites.

PEN America documents legislation restricting books and curricula

In a new report from PEN America, Educational Intimidation: How ‘Parents’ Rights’ Legislation Undermines the Freedom to Learn, the organization documents nearly 400 state legislative bills that allow extremists to override the views of the majority, micromanage classrooms, and disempower teachers, librarians, and school administrators. 

According to the report, the bills enable blanket restrictions on books or curricula for all students—and ultimately empower an ideological assault on public education while effectively disempowering other parents and overriding their preferences. A growing subset of the bills aims to restrict LGBTQIA+ representation and expression in public schools by discouraging discussions of gender and sexuality, banning preferred pronoun use, and instilling mandatory reporting mechanisms for parents to be alerted of perceived changes to students’ gender identity or sexual orientation. This places pressure on educators to monitor and police students’ expression, the report said.

SCBWI launches new award

The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Impact and Legacy Fund, the charitable division of SCBWI, has launched the Charlotte and Wilbur Award for Compassion for Animals to be given to a nonfiction, picture book, or middle grade title traditionally or self-published in 2023 that demonstrates respect and compassion for animals. SCBWI will produce a video school visit by the author and Children’s Book World will distribute the video to classrooms all over the country. Children’s Book World will also fulfill book orders from the schools that show the video.

The deadline for submissions is October 1, 2023.

Applications Open for IMLS Leadership Grant, 21st Century Library Program

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is accepting proposals for its National Leadership Grants for Libraries (NLG-L) and the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program (LB21).

The NLG-L supports projects that address critical needs in library and archives fields, advance the practices, and strengthen library and archival services. The goal of the LB21 is to develop a diverse workforce of librarians and archivists who can better meet the public’s information needs. The program seeks to recruit, train, and retain library and archives professionals. 

The deadline for applications for the leadership grants and Laura Bush program is September 20.

NCTE convention scholarships available 

NCTE is accepting applications for scholarships to cover the cost of 2023 Annual Convention registration. It costs $325 to register ($385 if registering after Oct. 1) for this year's convention, to be held Nov. 16-19 in Columbus, OH.

To be eligible, applicants must be NCTE members. Conference session presenters may apply. Recipients will be chosen by the convention program chair and a group of advisors appointed by the chair. 

The deadline to apply for a scholarship is September 5.

We Need Diverse Books delivers inaugural Books Save Lives Grants

We Need Diverse Books announced the winners of the inaugural round of the Books Save Lives grants. The five recipients, each located in states where book bans are expanding, will receive up to $5,000 in diverse titles. The funds will purchase more than 250 quality, diverse titles.

The Books Save Lives grant will supply diverse titles specifically requested by winning educators, circumventing the arduous review process and getting them directly to students. Grants were awarded to: Clay County Schools, Clay County, FL; Emerald Cove Middle School, Wellington, FL; Palm Beach School District, Palm Beach County, FL; Fort Worth Independent School District, Fort Worth, TX; Brandywine Middle/High School, Niles, MI.

Lee Rowland named new executive director of NCAC

The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), an alliance of 59 national nonprofit organizations, announced that Lee Rowland, the policy director at the New York Civil Liberties Union, will become its new executive director. Rowland replaces Christopher Finan, who is retiring. She will assume her new duties on September 11.

Rowland has been a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, the Brennan Center for Justice, and the New York Civil Liberties Union, and has served as lead counsel in federal First Amendment cases involving public employee speech rights, the First Amendment rights of community advocates, and government regulation of digital speech. She has experience as a litigator, lobbyist, and public speaker. 

New "Dog Man" coming in March 2024

Scholastic announced the next title in Dav Pilkey’s "Dog Man" series. Dog Man: The Scarlet Shedder, in which the canine superhero will venture into the world of artificial intelligence, will be released in March 2024. The title follows Dog Man: Twenty Thousand Fleas Under the Sea which, after its release in spring 2023, became the No. 1 bestselling children’s book of the year in North America.

“Dog Man started out as a character I created when I was in second grade, but the series has evolved into a love letter to my parents,” Pilkey said in a statement. “Looking back as a kid growing up with dyslexia and ADHD, my parents, who were my best advocates, let me choose whatever books I wanted to read—with no judgment. Their support and love was life-changing and helped me to become the reader, author, and illustrator that I am today.”

Gale launches Facebook community for educators

Gale launched Gale Community For Educators, a new Facebook community for K-12 educators to exchange ideas and share best practices. Gale Community For Educators offers a platform that encourages literature, English, history, and civics high school teachers to connect, share ideas, and access resources.

Gale Community For Educators connects teachers with a community of like-minded educators through an array of professional development opportunities, including webinars, workshops, and online courses, delivered by industry experts and experienced educators.

Rosen Publishing Group acquires Norwood House Press

Rosen Publishing Group announced the acquisition of Norwood House Press, effective August 1. Norwood House Press has more than 2,000 titles available to the institutional market in hardcover, paperback, and digital formats. It will continue to operate under its existing name.

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