Banned Books Week 2021
It's that time of year! Time to talk about censorship and the books that have been banned or challenged the most over the last year. That's right - it's Banned Books Week! Why do we celebrate Banned Books Week? Because we believe in the freedom to read and to choose what you want to read.
"But if a book is banned, isn't it bad?"
Bad is such a subjective term, don't you think? What you and your family may not like, could be what another family loves to read. So whether you love Harry Potter or cannot stand it, that's okay! Those books will be freely available for those who do want to read and learn from them.
History of Banned Books Week
Banned Books Week is an annual awareness campaign held the last week of September. It began in 1982, when Judith Krug, library and First Amendment activist, was approached by the Association of American Publishers to bring awareness of banned and challenged books to the general public. Today, Banned Books Week is largely promoted by the American Library Association (ALA). This campaign examines both book (and library service) bans and challenges, which includes any public request for removal or reassignment of a book (or service), generally within a library setting. Amnesty International also celebrates Banned Books Week - specifically raising awareness for writers who have been persecuted or killed for their work. This organization provides updates for persecuted writers' cases in several different countries, especially those with high rates of censorship. You can read more about Banned Books Week in my post from 2019.
Banned/Challenged Books of 2020
2020 was a rough year for all of us. Many libraries were closed to the public for at least part of the year (our library included). Even so, challenges to library books and services were received all over the US. Below is a look at the top 10 books that were challenged, along with reasons for the removal requests. Keep in mind that of the hundreds of reported challenges every year, there are hundreds more that go unreported. (It is estimated that 80-90% of challenges do not get reported to the ALA.) To find a larger list of challenged and banned books check out the ALA's frequently challenged book list.
"The freedom to read is essential to our democracy."
As I stated in my 2019 post, "We don’t have to agree about the appropriateness of a particular book, but I hope we can agree that each of us should be able to decide what is appropriate for ourselves."
You can read the full Freedom to Read Statement from the American Library Association here. If you want to get involved with Banned Books Week - check out virtual events and ways to get involved on the Banned Books website.
Take Our Banned Books Challenge
For the entire month of September, we are challenging YOU to read a book that has been banned or challenged and tell us what you think. Should it have been banned or challenged? Why or why not? For each banned book you read fill out a form or tag us in a picture on Instagram for a chance to win some Banned Books swag! The last day to turn in your forms is Saturday, October 2.