To See Yourself in Pages, Paragraphs, Sentences, and Words: Books, Stories, and Representation
Each year, the American Library Association Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF) compiles a list of the top 10 most challenged books that are requested for removal from schools and libraries. In 2021, the OIF documented 729 challenges of 1597 books and materials; however, it estimates that 82-97% of challenges go unreported. That means approximately 50,000 challenges to books were made in 2021! While trends in the subject of challenged books may reflect reactionary response to social movements that challenge prevailing authorities – reasons given for many top-10 challenges in 2020 during the peak of the Black Lives Matter movement include “promoting anti-police views” – most books are challenged for centering the lived experiences of marginalized peoples along racial, gender, and social lines.
In the United States, more than 12 states have recently passed laws that restrict how public-school teachers can talk about race, gender, and sexuality in the classroom, including banning associated materials from school libraries. Some states have even begun debating whether to expand these restrictions to public libraries that serve adult readers. (For a discussion of these trends, see this article.)
At Cast of Wonders, we welcome stories that portray the full spectrum of human (and non-human) experience. We don’t challenge books; we want books and stories to challenge us!
For Banned Books Week 2022, send us your stories that show how books and stories serve as a beacon for identity, serving to draw peoples and communities together; books that make the statement: “This is who I am, this is who we are, and we will be heard!” (This phrase need not appear in the story but should be a resonant theme). The book should feature prominently in the story and not serve as a prop or McGuffin; however, we encourage creativity in interpreting what a book is and how it is woven into the story. We like to be surprised! We are especially interested in stories that feature joy and hope, even if the setting is intergalactic war or a zombie apocalypse.
Cast of Wonders looks for stories that evoke a sense of wonder, have deep emotional resonance, and have something unreal about them. We aim for a 12-17 age range: that means sophisticated, non-condescending stories with wide appeal, and without gratuitous or explicit sex, violence or pervasive obscene language.
Preference for this submission window is under 5,000 words with an absolute limit of 6,000 words. Submissions must adhere to Cast of Wonders guidelines.
Submissions will be accepted from May 1 to May 14 through our Moksha Portal – we can’t wait to read what you send in!
Joining the editorial team for this call is one of our long-standing Associate Editors, Alicia Caporaso. We’re thrilled to have her and all of her expertise on the team for this event.