Banned Books Week is an annual event hosted by the American Library Association to celebrate the freedom to read and to spread awareness about censorship efforts affecting schools and libraries across the United States.
Libraries and schools very frequently receive formal complaints asking for a removal of all sorts of books in their inventory or on their curriculum. The ALA collects reports of those so-called “challenges” and uses the data to compile a list of frequently challenged books every year.
Of course, by far not all challenges are reported. A much bigger part goes unnoticed and without any protest, the challenged books quietly disappear from the shelves.
With Banned Books Week, the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom aims to draw attention to this practice and to highlight the books in question, thereby helping to protect the freedom to choose what we read.
Before ever looking at a list of banned or frequently challenged books, one might wonder about the kind of obscure books one would find there and what kind of atrocities these books contain to warrant being banned.
It would come as a surprise then, that these lists are full of beloved classics, children’s books and recent bestsellers like Fifty Shades Of Grey (okay, that one probably does not really come as a surprise :D).
Other frequently challenged titles include:
Banned Books Week might be hosted by an American association, but that doesn’t mean the issue is confined to the USA. Even in our modern day and age, every country has some form of restrictions in place in regards to books. Censorship is a global issue. The right to read is worth fighting for in any country.
So wherever you are from, I encourage you to participate in this event.
You can participate in any way you choose – by participating in the readathon or the Virtual Read-Out, simply reading a banned book for yourself this week, show banned books you have already read… there’s a seemingly infinite amount of options!
Personally, I will use this week to discuss different aspects of book banning and the reasons for book banning in particular in a series of blog posts starting tomorrow. Keep an eye out!
Have you heard of Banned Books Week? Will you participate in it? Have you read books that have been banned or are frequently challenged?