Former Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton appeared on The Daily Show With Trevor Noah on Tuesday and attempted to read a few children’s books to his viewers, but every book he chose is banned in school districts or libraries across the country. And he’s got things to say about that.
Rosa by poet, activist, and educator Nikki Giovanni, written as a tribute to Rosa Parks and her legacy, “…is banned because reading about segregation is divisive,” Burton says.
And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson “…is also banned because of sexual perversion, which is weird because there’s no sex in the book at all. Y’all, they adopted the baby.” Burton explains that the book—which the American Library Association notes was most challenged book by parents for three consecutive years—is “about two penguins and their little baby.”
And then there’s Dr. Seuss’ Hop on Pop, which in 2014 was requested by the Toronto Public Library to be banned for “encourag[ing] children to use violence against their fathers.” Dr. Seuss has since been challenged for portraying characters in racist and anti-semitic depictions.
Burton drove his frustration at implored viewers and kids to keep reading. “Read the books they don’t want you to—that’s where the good stuff is. Read banned books!” The American Library Association has tracked hundreds of book challenges across the country, and the New York Times reports that books about race and racial identity are at the top of the list.
During Tuesday’s episode of The Daily Show, Noah called the book banning a “new culture war,” citing members in a Virginia school district who want to burn books. “We’re living in 2022. We shouldn’t be burning books.”
Duh. Really, what else can we say? Read the books—all the books—and especially the ones that are banned.