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 William Golding’s Lord of the Flies and Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, contemporary tomes such as Alex Gino’s Melissa and Ibram X. Kendi’s How to be an Antiracist, and illustrated children’s books, New Kid and I Am Rosa Parks. Sadly, the list is way too long to include.



In Citizen Cast

The Citizen’s podcast version of Ali Velshi’s banned book interview with Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani, who sees the banning of her book series Girls Who Code as a mirror of what is happening to the rights of girls and women across the United States.



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Support independent booksellers

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Listen: Ali Velshi Banned Book Club on Girls Who Code

MSBNC's Ali Velshi speaks with Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani about her books' unlikely ban in Central York, Pennsylvania

Listen: Ali Velshi Banned Book Club on Girls Who Code

MSBNC's Ali Velshi speaks with Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani about her books' unlikely ban in Central York, Pennsylvania

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.

The Girls Who Code book series

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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