What's the Deal?

with Ali Velshi's Banned Book Club

MSBNC host Ali Velshi founded his #VelshiBannedBookClub in February 2022, in response to the increasingly widespread practice of schools and libraries prohibiting readers — especially young readers — from accessing books that adults believe would make these readers uncomfortable.

These books include such literary classics as Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, contemporary tomes such as Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning and How to be an Antiracist, illustrated children’s books, New Kid and I Am Rosa Park, sadly, the list is way to long to include.


Read More

By Jacqueline Woodson

The prolific author and MacArthur Fellow has an impressive body of work that includes children’s, middle grades / YA, adult prose — and poetry.

Books mentioned in her bio on her website:

She is best known for her National Book Award-Winning memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, and her Newbery Honor-winning titles After Tupac and D FosterFeathers, and Show Way (with illustrator Hudson Talbott). Her picture books The Day You Begin and The Year We Learned to Fly (both with illustrator Rafael López) were NY Times Bestsellers.


In CitizenCast

The Citizen’s podcast version of Ali Velshi’s banned book interview with author and poet Jacqueline Woodson.


Listen: Ali Velshi Banned Book Club with J. Woodson

The MSNBC anchor shares the first poetry of his banned book club, featuring "Brown Girl Dreaming"

Listen: Ali Velshi Banned Book Club with J. Woodson

The MSNBC anchor shares the first poetry of his banned book club, featuring "Brown Girl Dreaming"

Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming is the first book of poetry featured on the #VelshiBannedBookClub, an MSNBC segment where Citizen board member Ali Velshi interviews an author of one or more banned books.

The YA novel is autobiographical — following the author’s childhood as a “brown girl” in the late ’60s and ’70s, split between segregated Greenville, South Carolina and New York City. Woodson the adolescent grapples with her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement, her identity and individuality, as well as the power of community. Woodson the prolific writer vividly and skillfully captures the mind of a young person searching for sure footing in a fragmented world.

Brown Girl Dreaming is widely celebrated, winning the prestigious National Book Award for Young People’s Literature in 2014 as well as a Newbery Honor Award, and NAACP Image Award. (Woodson herself is a 2020 MacArthur Fellow.) “I’m always surprised when people want to keep stories from young people,” says Woodson on book banning. “Which, of course, shows us the power of these stories.”

Listen to the interview below.

Velshi and Woodson Discuss Brown Girl Dreaming:

Velshi on banned books on MSNBC:



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