The Brooklyn Public Library and Pen America are teaming up to host the first Freedom to Read Advocacy Institute, reports School Library Journal. The free four-week online program for high schoolers is part of an ongoing effort to fight censorship and encourage youth advocacy.

“It just came out of a natural partnership and an interest in taking some of the tools and the lessons from activism at the college level with parents with authors, and really bringing that into a full package for high school students,” stated Kasey Meehan, PEN America’s Freedom to Read program director and one of the organizers of this initiative. 

Student registrants can attend as many of the four interactive workshops to learn how to defend intellectual freedom and combat censorship in local communities. In addition, participants will have the opportunity to create their advocacy resources; and meet student activists and parents fighting book bans as well as the authors of banned books.

 “The goal of the program is to equip students to be leaders and stand up and fight against what we see as a movement to censor and remove access to books in schools and public libraries,” continued Meehan. “Enough is enough, we’re fighting back on this movement to censor books and to remove books from schools.'”

Guest speakers are planned to represent all aspects of the ongoing fight against censorship, from author Ashley Hope Pérez, whose book “Out of Darkness” has been removed from shelves, to Girls Who Code, Founder Reshma Saujani, and countless other student activists.

“It takes so much courage for students,” Meehan continued.

“It’s just beyond impactful to see what the impact that students are having across the country, defending their schools and defending their own right to read. It’s an honor to be able to observe and to work in partnership with [them].”

To apply, click here. Applications are due Jan. 19. There is no cost to apply, and the program is free.

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