Diminishing Pages

Girl with glasses reading in library (ai)

Books can only transport readers to new worlds when they’re available for consumption by eager minds. But mankind is facing a plague of disinformation.

Maturity Age 14+

« Login For Audio »

Feeding Minds


Victor, an affectionate Persian Blue cat, purrs while rubbing its head into Sadie’s leg, as she finishes the reading of a book to herself. A chart on her wall has a space to add the title of each book she completes. So she shuts the cover of her most recent accomplishment, writes its title on her list, and picks up Victor, satisfying his insistence for affection.

Sadie has been reading since she was 4 years old. Her initial interest in children’s picture books has grown to a voracious appetite for multiple genres of both fiction and non-fiction titles. These feed her craving for history and inspire her mind regarding future possibilities. So, quite naturally, Sadie’s favorite place to visit is the local library. This excites her more than going to an amusement park.

Her parents have high hopes for the prodigy, even though her ambition at present is limited to becoming a librarian. But Sadie’s fantasy land is undergoing subtle changes between weekly visits. Many of the books she returns do not make it back onto the shelves. Bookends are getting closer together throughout the library.

Starving Intellect

Sadie turns to her mother and inquires, “Mommy, what’s happening to the books?”

“Well, I don’t know sweetheart,” Veronica responds. “Let’s ask the librarian. Excuse me, ma’am. Are the number of books decreasing at this branch?”

The mature lady slides her eyeglasses up from the tip of her nose. “They are decreasing. But not just here. There are less books throughout the entire state. Local government is banning books containing specific words, including the Bible. The list grows each week.”

This news frightens Sadie. “Mommy, at this rate, there will be no more books when I become a librarian.”

Veronica inquires of the book Guardian, “We don’t understand. What are the criteria for such literary bans?”

“That’s a complex question to answer because the criteria are subjective, without a clear process for appealing decisions. However, some guidelines make it illegal to teach American history, which could make White students feel guilt or anguish. This includes any reference to racism. There is also a ban on books mentioning stereotypes, sex, sexuality, or puberty.”

The mother responds with alarm. “That covers a significant number of history books. You said that also includes the Holy Bible?”

“Yes. Some verses mention genocide, sex, and racial superiority.”

“Stop. This is ludicrous!” Veronica shouts. “What if a book warns against negativity in such aberrant behavior?”

“Please lower your voice. It seems that there’s a belief that polar opposite views exist on these and other topics. So eliminating the books is a way to suppress conflict.”

“What about all the gun violence? There’s no ban on weapons,” Veronica persists. “What if the context discourages such things?”

“A large lobbyist group backs the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. So a ban on books that discuss their use or manufacture is unlikely.”

Veronica endeavors to comprehend the rationale, as though her appeals might restore the treasures her little girl values. “What about the 1st Amendment right to free speech? Help me understand the stereotypes that you mentioned earlier. Is it a story about a girl who enjoys cooking, who grows up to be a housewife in that category?”

“I’m not the one making the rules. But it seems like a good stereotypical example. I recommend focusing on all the science and technology books that remain.”

“Do you know how rare it is to have a child that enjoys reading? What if I want my daughter to have a well-rounded education on the history of a banned topic?”

📚 Book banning is a widespread form of censor­ship. Those advocat­ing bans complain that such books contain graphic violence, express disrespect for parents and family, are sexually explicit, exalt evil, lack literary merit, are unsuitable for a particular age group, or include offensive language.

“There may still be resources available online. But such books are no longer available in public libraries or schools.”

While processing a roller coaster of emotions, Sadie tugs on her mother’s sweater and announces, “There won’t be enough books when I grow up. I don’t want to become a librarian anymore. I want to be an author who tells people about everything they missed when libraries shrank.”

Savoring Prospects

The bookshelves continue diminishing as Sadie reaches adulthood. On one overcast spring morning, she awakens to the sound of crows. While lying beneath warm covers, she ponders the childhood conversation with the librarian.

In her backyard, the squawking scavengers perched on power lines antagonize Victor. Sadie feels a similar threat. So she gets dressed and drives around the city to assess the status of public libraries. Now they are all kiosks, the original books being recycled into single-use dining utensils.

With no measurable effect on issues that regulators were trying to suppress, these book vending machines dispense censored information in response to voice prompts. At every childhood library, she can remember, terminals are void of Sadie’s literary works. This causes her to hyperventilate, until hearing her mother’s soothing voice awakening her from a bad dream.

“Sadie, Sadie, wake up. What’s wrong?”

“Mommy, it was a terrible science-fiction nightmare. I grew up, and huge crows had consumed the remains of all the books in the world. There was no way for me to replenish them. I will feel much better when we get to the library again.”

Veronica’s countenance conveys remorse while somberly responding, “Sadly Sweetheart, it wasn’t all a dream.”

The End

Return twice weekly for miniseries. Any relation to actual persons or events is coincidental. Login provides the most immersive experience. About 900 total words. Visible content is optimized for device size. Audio may include sound effects that alter reading time. Story includes one or more generative AI images to help readers visualize scenes.

Read next episode

'Black female astronaut'
'Scolding child'