Banned Books Week, an annual campaign promoting the intellectual freedom to read that has been held in the United States since 1982, is occurring this week from September 24 – October 1, 2011. Banned Books Week not only draws awareness to First Amendment rights and intellectual freedom, but also to the issues of censorship, free access to information, and real attempts (both successful and unsuccessful) to ban books in the United States. At the core of Banned Books Week lies the principal that books containing controversial or unpopular content should remain accessible and available to all people who wish to read them.
Many events take place each year during the last week in September to highlight Banned Books Week in the United States. Events such as read-outs, in which people gather to read passages from banned books, are a popular way to draw attention to the issue of book censorship. Adding a twist to the traditional read-out, this year the American Library Association (ALA) and its cosponsors are holding a Virtual Read-Out event in which people are encouraged to submit short videos of themselves reading passages from banned books, which will be featured on the Banned Books Week Virtual Read-Out YouTube channel. Additionally, many library’s plan events and create displays each year for Banned Books Week. The official Banned Books Week website provides a list of events occurring in libraries in the United States throughout the week. However, since this list is in no way exhaustive, we encourage you to contact your local libraries this week to learn about the Banned Books Week events that are occurring near you.
To inform the public about the the facts relating to challenged or banned books, the American Library Association provides lists of the top ten challenged books of the 21st century (2001-2010), the top ten challenged authors of the 21st century (2001-2010), statistics relating to the challenges to books per year (1990-2010), the 100 most frequently challenged books from 1990-1999, the 100 most frequently challenged books from 2000-2009, and the most frequently banned or challenged classics. How many of the challenged or banned books included on ALA’s lists have you read?
In honor of Banned Books Week this week, read a banned book, attend a Banned Books Week event, and support your local libraries. You can show your support for the precious freedom to read by reading those books on ALA’s lists that have been challenged or banned in the past. Which banned book will you be reading this week?