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Artists Against Book Bans: 170+ Celebrities Sign Petition Defending the Freedom to Read

“A threat to one form of art is a threat to us all.”

That’s what LeVar Burton, the former host of “Reading Rainbow” and executive producer of the 2023 documentary “The Right to Read,” believes, and it’s why he’s partnered with MoveOn to launch a campaign with creative leaders to bring heightened awareness to this dangerous form of censorship and exclusion. With a new school year just beginning, this letter is a timely response to Republicans banning a record number of books in the last school year, despite backlash and public opinion research showing that the majority of Americans oppose book bans.

“It’s embarrassing that we are banning books in this country, in this culture, in this day and age,” says Burton. “And it’s dangerous that a handful of individuals are deciding that any book with Black and queer people is divisive. I’m proud to be surrounded by hundreds of artists and millions of MoveOn members who are solidly against this type of censorship. We are calling on everyone to join us in raising their voices to uphold artistic freedom, embrace multicultural history, and put a stop once and for all to book bans.” 

Celebrities Raise Their Voices Against Book Bans

And he’s not fighting back alone. With this petition, Burton is calling on celebrities and activists to join him in pushing back against book bans and defending the freedom to read and learn by signing onto his letter declaring that “the restrictive behavior” of book bans is “not just antithetical to free speech and expression but has a chilling effect on the broader creative field.” 

More than 175 celebrities agree with him. Judy Blume, Sandra Cisneros, Ariana Grande, Roxane Gay, Amanda Gorman, Billy Porter, Chelsea Handler, Jodi Picoult, Gabrielle Union, Padma Lakshmi, Sharon Stone, and others have signed on, using their voices to speak out against the attacks on books and the freedom to learn. 

Push Back Against Book Bans—Sign the Petition & Rock Your Merch

Featured in “The Hollywood Reporter,” The Root, HuffPost, ”People” magazine, and more, the open letter asserts that “The government cannot and should not create any interference or dictate what people can produce, write, generate, read, listen to, or consume.”

You, too, can join LeVar Burton and scores of people across the country in condemning book bans and calling for an end to hateful censorship. Visit our Artists Against Book Bans site to read and sign the full letter.

As a part of National Banned Book Week, from October 1 through 7, you can also show your support proudly and visibly by getting our exclusive “LeVar Burton Says Read Banned Books” shirts, which just dropped! Your contribution will raise money for our next Banned Bookmobile tour and purchase more banned books to give away for free, fighting back against extreme politicians and their bans.

LeVar Burton, former host of "Reading Rainbow" in his custom tee that reads "LeVar Burton Says Read Banned Books."

LeVar Burton, former host of “Reading Rainbow” in his custom tee that reads “LeVar Burton Says Read Banned Books.” Credit: LeVar Burton Entertainment

The Banned Bookmobile Fall Tour

We launched our Banned Bookmobile Tour campaign this year to push back against book bans, have conversations with voters about fighting MAGA extremism, and provide resources for people to get involved to help defeat the GOP in 2024.

We met so many MoveOn members and supporters during our multistate tour this summer, and we’re excited to announce that we’ll be on the road this fall as well!

That’s right, we’re kicking off our fall tour at the following stops:

  • Georgia
  • Tennessee
  • South Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Virginia
  • Washington, D.C.


The first stop of the Fall Bookmobile Tour took place on Sunday, October 1 at the Little Shop of Stories, an independent bookstore in Decatur, GA.

The first stop of the Fall Bookmobile Tour took place on Sunday, October 1 at the Little Shop of Stories, an independent bookstore in Decatur, GA. Credit: MoveOn


You can learn more about our Banned Bookmobile and catch up on the latest news at MoveOnBannedBookmobile.com.