The popular children’s book series about a group of young girls and their adventures in their after-school coding club, “Girls Who Code,” has been added to the ever-growing list of banned books in schools. And now the series founder is speaking out against the move and its direct impact on young girls.
Over the weekend, the series was added to PEN America’s Index of School Book Bans, a comprehensive, nationwide list of restricted literature. PEN America advocates protecting free expression through the advancement of literature and human rights. The mission of the organization is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.
Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code, shared her feelings about the ban in an Instagram post on Saturday.
“I woke up this morning to a news alert that our @GirlsWhoCode middle-grade book series was banned by some school districts as part of the Mom for Liberty effort to ban books,” she writes in the caption. “To be honest, I am so angry I cannot breathe. This series was our labor of love, our commitment to our community to make sure that girls—all girls—see themselves as coders. You cannot be what you cannot see, and this was our effort to get more girls, girls of color interested in coding. And it worked!!”
The goal for the organization Girls Who Code is to “change the face of tech.” According to the organization’s website, they’re on trach to close the gender gap in new entry-level tech jobs by 2030. The book series plays a huge role in that success.
“Moms for Liberty” was founded by two former school board members former school board members, Tiffany Justice and Tina Descovich, who say they witnessed how “short-sighted and destructive policies directly hurt children” and now seek to “stoke the fires of liberty.” The conservative group has, so far, sought to ban curriculum and reading materials in schools that focus on “sexually explicit material,” though they are openly critical of topics like critical race theory, sex education, and inclusive gender language.
“I haven’t seen any of our chapters that want to get rid of any books that help children find characters they identify with,” Descovich recently told Fox News, which directly contradicts the banning of “Girls Who Code.”
Pennsylvania’s Central York School District, one of the districts banning the book series, is reportedly in a critical political swing region where Girls Who Code has an active club.
Saujani tells Insider she believes the banning of the book series is about controlling young girls and women, and the information they have access to.
“In some ways we know that book banning has been an extreme political tool by the right—banning books to protect our kids from things that are ‘obscene’ or ‘provocative’—but there is nothing obscene or provocative about these books,” she says.
The books are used to teach kids to code, period. Saujani says the books serve a critical purpose, especially in underfunded school districts “that don’t have the technology or have disparate Wi-Fi, these books are a great way to learn to code and a way to equalize access to coding.”
In her Instagram post over the weekend, Saujani refuses to be deterred by the ban.
We are now 500,000 girls strong. Now, a group of moms and elected officials are trying to change this… by banning books that will get more girls interested in coding. We cannot let them win. We have to fight back. And we will!”