Hey, library lovers! Another Banned Books Week is upon us, this year extending from September 27 through October 3, as libraries around the country join forces with the American Library Association (ALA)’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) and the Banned Books Week Coalition in support of our right to read what we want, when we want!
This year's theme is "Censorship is a Dead End" and will again spotlight current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. Each year at the end of September, this important campaign brings together the entire book community—librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types—in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular. The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted for removal or restriction in libraries and schools. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship!
Banned Books Week kicked off in the 1980s amid the 1982 Island Trees School District v. Pico Supreme Court case. The Supreme Court officially ruled that school officials are not allowed to ban books due to their content, but all types of books continue to be banned or challenged today, often those with themes including profanity, sex, LGBTQ+ characters, drug use, alcohol use, same-sex relationships, and violence, among others.
Here at the Free Library, we’ll be participating in Banned Books Week all week long, so check back here on the blog and tune in to our social media (if you'll be sharing, too, use the #BannedBooksWeek hashtag!) to learn more! In the meantime, below are a few ways you can help fight against censorship along with us:
- Read a Banned Book: Browse the lists of commonly banned and challenged titles, and grab one from your neighborhood library! Need inspiration? View some of our staff recommendations! You can even encourage your local book club to read and discuss one of the titles.
- Report Censorship: If you hear of a challenge at your local library, support your librarian for free and open access to library materials by contacting the OIF!
- Support Your Library: We can’t carry out our mission to advance literacy, guide learning, and inspire curiosity without you—and Banned Books Week is a great time to support the Free Library!
- Participate in the Stand for the Banned Virtual Read-out: Join readers from across the world by filming yourself reading from your favorite banned book. The videos will be featured on the Banned Books Week YouTube channel.
- Write a letter to a favorite banned or challenged author: Take some time to thank a banned or challenged author for their words! Author addresses and Twitter handles can be found on the Dear Banned Author page.
Visit the ALA website for more ways to get involved and celebrate Banned Books Book!
Read on, Philly!