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ABCs of Book Banning, an Oscar-Nominated Short Documentary, Free on YouTube

Kelly Jensen


Kelly is a former librarian and a long-time blogger at STACKED. She's the editor/author of (DON'T) CALL ME CRAZY: 33 VOICES START THE CONVERSATION ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH and the editor/author of HERE WE ARE: FEMINISM FOR THE REAL WORLD. Her next book, BODY TALK, will publish in Fall 2020. Follow her on Instagram @heykellyjensen.

If you’ve been paying any attention at all over the last several years, you know book banning has been happening everywhere across the United States. We cover it extensively here, as do dozens of other outlets and organizations nationwide. As part of the response, Sheila Nevins developed and directed a short film for MTV Documentary films last March titled “The ABCs of Book Banning.”

Nevins’s directorial debut was created alongside Trish Adlesic and Nazenet Habtezghi. The 27 minute long film earned an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Short. From now until February 29, the whole film is available to legally stream on YouTube.

“The ABCs of Book Banning” was inspired by activists like Grace Linn, the 100-year-old woman in Florida who spoke out against book banning in Martin County Schools.

“She was talking about this disgrace of banning books in that particular school district,” Nevins said in an interview with PEOPLE. “I really didn’t know very much about book banning, but she inspired me to look into it. Then, I thought, ‘We have to make this film.’” Nevins further told Variety that it was especially crucial to do this during an election year to make a contribution to the efforts to end book banning.

The film includes interviews with Florida students, offering space for them to reflect on what it means to have books banned and made inaccessible to them. Nevins, who is 84, noted that she could not imagine what these students must be thinking or feeling. More, she Linn’s example fired her up. Nevins wanted to ensure that the story of book banning does not go untold and that access to books is crucial for a functioning democracy.

Though she did not and does not see this as a film for young people, they play a huge role in its telling.

“Children care a lot about what they read because they can’t get on a plane and they can’t look at the world except through books,” Nevins explained. “It’s a tough world that children are growing up in now. It’s a world with war. It’s a world where the planet is in danger. I would want them to be informed about the world they live in so that they can make it a safer and better place.”

Catch it for free while it’s available.