In this episode of #VelshiBannedBookClub, Ali Velshi discusses Girls Who Code, a middle grades book series about a friend group / STEM club. In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, these books appeared on a list of recommended reading for children — a list that was entirely banned by the Central York School District in York, PA.
Velshi describes the Girls Who Code series as “The Baby-Sitters Club meets AP computer science” and “endearing, engaging, and utterly appropriate for sixth graders and up.” There is, he says, absolutely nothing controversial about them.
Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani believes the ban was reflective of the current state of our nation. She says, “If Girls Who Code books can get banned, any books that are promoting opportunity and education, giving girls access to economic independence — they’re coming for those too.” Saujani says Moms for Liberty was behind the bans like this one. The right-wing parental rights group has referred to the Girls Who Code book series as “‘activist STEM books” and “‘pornographic,'” Saujani says.
Really, Saujani says, the books are about opportunity. “Less than 18 percent of the technology workforce is female,” she says, and “there are hardly any Black and Brown technologists.” Girls Who Code — the nationwide club that inspired the series — has taught 500,000 American girls to code. Most of these girls come from underserved and low-income communities.
Banning books like Girls Who Code is, Saujani says, “so deeply, fundamentally unAmerican.”
Velshi and Saujani encourage citizens to become civically engaged. Attend school board meetings, elect school board members whose beliefs align with yours, run for school board — or political office — and support teachers who are trying to broaden children’s opportunities through education.
Listen to the interview below:
Velshi and Reshma Saujani:
Velshi on banned books on MSNBC:
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