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🟢 Kid Lit Book Review: The Great Banned-Books Bake Sale by Aya Khalil

The Great Banned-Books Bake Saley written by Aya Khalil,

Illustrated by Anait Semirdzhyan

A Review by Tara Matruolo

"Some books are so powerful that they intimidate people” — Aya Khalil

The Great Banned-Books Bake Sale by Aya Khalil is a powerful picture book confronting social justice issues head-on. Readers are reconnected to Kanzi, featured in Khalil’s The Arabic Quilt,  a young protagonist who takes  pride in her Egyptian heritage. The book’s central themes revolve around inclusivity and the crucial need for representation in literature, especially for children from the global majority. The book showcases a diverse cast of characters through vibrant illustrations, urging readers to embrace differences and celebrate individuality. However, the story takes a turn when Kanzi and her classmates excitedly head to the school library only to be confronted with the disheartening truth that the shelves that once held a rich collection of diverse books now stand barren, stripped bare by the oppressive act of book banning.

Upon learning the reasons behind the removal of the books, Kanzi’s teacher enlightens the class about nationwide protests against book bans. Inspired by this knowledge, Kanzi proposes a plan to raise funds for buying banned books through a bake sale, a grassroots protest showcasing collective action’s power! The story highlights how the classroom teacher, librarian, children, and community members unite to express their dissatisfaction with book bans, standing together against censorship. Although the book doesn’t delve into the root causes of book-banning, it effectively portrays the consequences of removing diverse books from children’s hands. Khalil draws from her connection to the theme, as her work, The Arabic Quilt, was banned in a school district in Pennsylvania. Together with other affected authors, Khalil joined a collective action to raise awareness and reverse the bans, advocating for a more inclusive literary landscape.

The Great Banned-Books Bake Sale presents a world where banned books become a catalyst for creativity, community-building, and social change. At an age-appropriate level, the book instills the notion that action can be taken when injustice occurs. It showcases how the collective protests and efforts of Kanzi and her allies lead to a positive transformation as the bans are reversed. By emphasizing the importance of embracing diversity and cherishing our differences, the book encourages young readers to become agents of change. The Great Banned-Books Bake Sale is recommended to teach children about book banning, the detrimental effects of such bans, and how peaceful protests can bring about transformative change!



A Page from The Great Banned-Book Bake Sale

Tara Matruolo was a student review writer working with Reading Is Resistance at Portland State University in partnership with Teaching for Change's Social Justice Books (SJB) Project.

Her review is cross posted with the Social Justice Books Project.


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