Oscar-nominated documentary 'The ABCs of Book Banning' examines kids' POV

ByGeorge Pennacchio OTRC logo
Monday, March 4, 2024
Oscar-nominated 'The ABCs of Book Banning' looks at kids' POV
"The ABCs of Book Banning," which is nominated for this year's Oscars, asks children to weigh in on controversial books.

LOS ANGELES -- One of his year's Oscar-nominated documentary short films is about a timely topic involving education. It's called "The ABCs of Book Banning."

It's not so much about the adults who are fighting for or against banning some books. This film invites children to weigh in on what they're reading.

In it, children react to several of the books now in question by some school districts. In one scene, a girl says, "I feel like if you're trying to ban this book, we're just banning Jewish history. So why would you ever want to ban Jewish history?''

"The ABCs of Book Banning" takes a look at restricted, challenged and banned books in our nation's schools. The twist here is hearing several children offering their thoughts after reading some of the material deemed inappropriate for them. Those books in question now number in the thousands.

"When we finished the film in August of '23, there were approximately 2,000 banned books in 38 states. Currently, there are 6,000 banned books in 41 states. So this is moving swiftly," said co-director Trish Adlesic.

Among the books affected, one by poet and activist Amanda Gorman, the anti-war novel, "Slaughterhouse Five" by Kurt Vonnegut, "The Hobbit," "The Handmaid's Tale," the Pulitzer Prize-winning post-civil war novel, "Beloved," by Toni Morrison and books about Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks.

Reacting the book on Park, a child in the film remarks, "Do you feel like Rosa Parks is a bad person? Do you feel like her legacy - people should not know about her legacy? Why do you choose to do this? I'm just curious."

Adlesic said she was pleasantly surprised and relieved by many of the reactions by the kids.

"They don't want book banning," she said. "They don't want their library or school shelves purged of the truth."

Adlesic noted that 99% of the books are about LGBTQ+ matters, Black history, the Holocaust and women's rights.

One powerful voice in this documentary short comes from 101-year-old activist Grace Linn.

"My husband was killed in World War II fighting the Nazis," she said. "They're the ones that banned the books in Poland, in Austria, in Germany. And they burned them. And you know what they did afterwards. We've got to learn history and make sure that history is not repeated. It will be if they go on banning books!"

Linn isn't done talking yet. She is walking the Oscars' red carpet on March 10.

DON'T MISS the 2024 Oscars live Sunday on ABC! Red carpet coverage starts at 1 p.m. ET | 10 a.m. PT with "Countdown to Oscars: On The Red Carpet Live." At 4 p.m. ET | 1 p.m. PT, live coverage continues with "On The Red Carpet at the Oscars," hosted by George Pennacchio with Roshumba Williams, Leslie Lopez and Rachel Brown.

The 96th Oscars, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, begins at 7 p.m. ET | 4 p.m. PT, an hour earlier than past years, followed by an all-new episode of "Abbott Elementary."