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Hop on the ‘Banned Wagon’: Penguin Random House’s Banned Wagon Tour

Cindy Burnett
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The Banned Books Wagon

Banned Books Week is Oct. 1-7. This year, Penguin Random House is taking a stand against the rising wave of book bans in American school districts with the first Banned Wagon Tour. The tour will stop in Houston on Sat., Oct. 7, 1-4 p.m. at Kindred Stories.

Next week is Banned Books Week, and Penguin Random House is taking a stand against the rising wave of book bans in American school districts with the first Banned Wagon Tour. The wagon will take a journey through the South from October 1-7, 2023, and will feature a selection of 12 books that are currently being banned and challenged across the country. They will engage with parents, students, and educators, distributing free banned books and sparking necessary conversations.

I have read and enjoyed so many banned books including The Giver by Lois Lowry, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Beloved by Toni Morrison, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and others.

In connection with the Banned Wagon Tour, I interviewed Carly Gorga, Penguin Random House Director of Creative Strategy + Brand Marketing about the Banned Wagon tour and its stop next Saturday, Oct. 7 in Houston:

Tell me about the Banned Wagon.

Book bans are on the rise in America, fueled by new laws and regulations limiting the kinds of books that kids can access. 

This Banned Books Week (October 1-7), Penguin Random House, in partnership with Freedom to Read Foundation, PEN America, and Little Free Library, is launching The Banned Wagon Tour of the South, a bookmobile tour making stops in communities affected by censorship and getting books to people who need and want them most. 

What is the origin of the Banned Wagon? How long has it been around?

This is The Banned Wagon’s maiden journey! Penguin Random House and our partners have long been involved in the fight against censorship, but this Banned Books Week, we felt it was critical to engage with readers on the ground in places where book bans are most prevalent. What better way to do this than with an old-school bookmobile? 

The Banned Wagon is headed out on tour soon. Where is it going and why?

From October 1-7, The Banned Wagon will road trip through Atlanta/Decatur, GA, Nashville, TN, New Orleans, LA, and Houston, TX, partnering with bookstores in each city to distribute free banned books and product from Out of Print, host exclusive author panels, and meet with folks on the ground. 

There were lots of considerations when selecting these cities, including the state of book bans in each state, and perhaps most importantly, our bookstore partners – Charis Books & More in Decatur, The Bookshop in Nashville, Baldwin & Co. in New Orleans, and Kindred Stories in Houston – all of which are on the front lines of this fight and are extremely engaged in and passionate about the issue. 

The Banned Wagon Tour: Houston


One stop is Houston. Where will it be and when?

Houston is closing out Banned Books Week on Saturday, October 7! The Banned Wagon will be at Kindred Stories at 2304 Stuart Street, from 1-4 p.m. There will be books! There will be music! There will be pizza from Vinny’s. We hope to see lots of folks there!

How can people learn more about this event?

You can learn more about The Banned Wagon Tour, including a rundown of the stops and featured books here. And to learn more about what Penguin Random House is doing – and what you can do – to fight book bans, check out our Banned Books Resources Site.

For more book recommendations and bookish thoughts, see Cindy’s monthly Buzz Reads column, her Thoughts from a Page Podcast or follow @ThoughtsFromaPage on Instagram. Find upcoming Conversations from a Page events here.

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