CLEVELAND — Ariel Hakim’s home is filled with books. She loves literature so much that she got a job working at her local library, where she learned certain books were being intentionally taken or left off bookshelves.
“Banned books is kind of a blanket term for books that have been removed from shelves in not just schools, but this also happens in prisons,” Hakim said.
That discovery led her to become an entrepreneur and owner of Banned Books Box. Now in it’s second month, the Banned Books Boxes are filled with books and supporting materials hand picked by Hakim.
She’s packing December boxes with books highlighting struggles with gender identity, books that Hakim says have been controversial and deemed unacceptable by parents and school board members across the country.
“School boards and other school administrators are saying, you know, you're right. This shouldn't be in the schools," Hakim said. "Let's get this out of here. Take it off the shelves."
Since launching last month, the amount of people who have signed up to have banned books delivered to doorsteps has more than tripled. Hakim said she launched Banned Books Box in part to support authors whose books are being challenged.
“The American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom keeps a blog that compiles a lot of new censorship news, and I read, and then I read the books so I’m not sending out anything that I haven't read or that I haven't enjoyed even,” she said.
Her ultimate goal is for people of all backgrounds to get more comfortable talking and reading about race, social justice, identity and history.
“I’m hoping that people are talking about these books and talking about, you know, countering that conversation about what's wrong with people reading these books, but there's so much to say about what's right about reading these books,” Hakim said.