Group to give away banned books in Sergeant Bluff, Sioux City this weekend

Images from the 2023 Banned Book Read-In at the Johnston farmers' market

By Nikoel Hytrek

November 16, 2023

Annie’s Foundation, a nonprofit group started by Iowans to spread the word about book banning and give those books away, is hitting the road—and coming to Western Iowa for the first time.

On Saturday, Nov. 18th, Annie’s will hold an event from noon to 2 p.m. at the Sergeant Bluff Public Library, followed by 2:45 to 3:45 p.m. at Moon Wellness & Company in Sioux City.

Sara Hayden Parris, the founder and president of Annie’s Foundation, said the library reached out to them, and then they added the Sioux City pop-up to maximize their time.

Just like their Central Iowa events, the books will be free and Parris said they’ll take approximately 250 books to give away—one per person while supplies last. The events are come-and-go.

“We will probably kick off with some remarks at like 12:15, and then just will be there for the whole time. So people can come in and talk to us, learn more about book bans, and pick out a book if they want to take one home,” she said. “It’s super casual and laid back.”

Since the group was started in September 2022, Parris estimated they’ve given away close to 4,000 books.

“There are so many in my garage right now—I need people to take them,” she said.

All of the books are purchased with donations to Annie’s Foundation.

“It’s always interesting to hear people’s stories about where they live, and what their schools and libraries are doing or what they’re teaching,” Parris said. “It’s fun to get out and to talk to all the people. I’m such an introvert, but I’ll talk about books with anyone.”

Though this is the first Annie’s Foundation giveaway hosted outside of central Iowa, Parris said she and the foundation have been invited to speak elsewhere, including in Mason City and Eldora, and said people are always receptive and interested in learning about book banning.

She said she was flattered to get such invitations—partly because it’s something she didn’t expect when she and other Johnston parents started the foundation.

“We’ve always talked about wanting to make sure that we’re serving all Iowans. But it’s hard, because we all work full time,” she said. “This worked out real well.”

  • Nikoel Hytrek

    Nikoel Hytrek is Iowa Starting Line’s longest-serving reporter. She covers LGBTQ issues, abortion rights and all topics of interest to Iowans. Her biggest goal is to help connect the dots between policy and people’s real lives. If you have story ideas or tips, send them over to [email protected].



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