Training Attended

Children's Literature Association (ChLA) Conference

Training Date

Summer 6-2-2022

Training Location

Atlanta, Georgia

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date

Summer 6-2022


Harambee! In Swahili, “Harambee” means “All pull together!” The impetus for this report grew out of a unifying discussion with other 2022 Children's Literature Association (ChLA) conference attendees.These discussions led to the decision to “pull together” against the rise of “extreme” conservatism and the increase of banned books across the United States.

This report offers insight into some of the issues surrounding the increase in censorship in children's and young adult literature. It includes a brief review of the recently scrutinized book, Dear Martin by Nic Stone, and it concludes with some recommendations for negotiating censorship in conservative communities.


On June 4, 2022, after a two-year pandemic hiatus from face-to-face events, members of the Children's Literature Association(ChLA) were excited to travel to Atlanta, Georgia for a three annual meeting.

To hold the first post pandemic annual meeting in Atlanta was an intellectually and creatively calculated move by the 2022 ChLA Annual Conference Planning Committee. As described on the conference registration page, “Atlanta holds any number of monikers….. It is often referred to as the Hollywood of the South or the Birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement, and local residents have been known to refer to Georgia’s state capital as the “City in the Forest.”

Consequently, the intellectual and creative thematic charge to ChLA conference attendees was to “examine, from any number of angles or interpretative lenses, this concept of a “City in a Forest” within children’s and young adult literature, media, and culture.”

The impetus for this report grew out of a discussion with other ChLA conference attendees regarding the rise of “extreme” conservatism and the increase of banned books across the United States. The discussion was triggered by the keynote presentation of author and Atlanta native Nic Stone, and centered around efforts by some school districts to ban her New York Times best-selling debut novel, Dear Martin.

This report attempts to address the City in a Forest 2022 ChLA conference charge, not by reviewing children's stories on urban ecology such as in the new book, Chasing Bats and Tracking Rats ...(2022) by Cylita Guy, nor by examining young adult literature that features nature and the landscape as protagonists, such as in Richard Powers's 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction novel The Overstory.

Rather, this report provides insight into the discussions and the decisions made by some 2022 ChLA conference colleagues to “Harambee!,” meaning “to all pull together” in each of our communities to address censorship in children's and young adult literature.

To that end, this report pulls together information to help other supporters actively respond to the City in a Forest conference charge by asking these overriding philosophical and practical questions in their own communities: What if the city continues to build “forbidden fences” to keep children and young adults out of certain areas of the forest? In practicality, How do we negotiate censorship in children's and young adult literature during this new era of conservatism?



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