Literature has played an important part in the evolution of human society. Having effects on politics, religion, education, culture, and the way people view the world. It is amazing how some pieces of paper bound together by glue have led to protests, revolutions, and even wars! Due to the power books hold, it is unsurprising how many people feel the need to ban books that would call for change. With thousands of books being challenged in America every year, there are many who believe that the censorship of books is wrong and unjust.
That is why during the last week of September for the past 40 years, the American Library Association (ALA) has run Banned Books Week. Established in 1982, Banned Books Week has combated the huge rush of book challenges in schools, bookstores, and libraries across America. Banned Books Week brings together those in the literary community from librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types who share and support the freedom to be allowed to read books, no matter the theme or unorthodox pretenses of the book.
The American Library Association promotes the reading of banned books in support of intellectual freedom. According to the ALA’s research, the top two reasons books are banned in America have been due to the work being sexually explicit, or the use of offensive language. Though this may be an understandable cause as to why a parent or guardian would not want their child to read a certain book, it becomes an issue when schools and libraries face book challenges. This is because it becomes an issue of individual freedom as well as censorship, as people are forcing their beliefs onto others. That is why Banned Books Week strives to educate and promote the reading of frequently challenged and banned books.
Banned Books Week has gained major media coverage from PBS and the New York Times and has an estimated 2.8 billion readers and more than 90,000 publishing industry and library subscribers. The theme for Banned Books Week this past September was “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us". The theme sparked discussions between various readers and storytellers to build relationships and understanding between vastly different people. The theme made for strong discussions about how books reach across boundaries and build connections, while censorship only creates barriers.
Banned Books Week creates a safe place for authors and readers alike to share and admire literary work without having to worry about prejudice or discrimination. The continuity of the event is especially important for the intellectual freedom of today’s youth!
"Banned Books Week ", American Library Association .11 December 2012. http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/banned.
Fink, Lisa. “A Look Back at the History of Banned Books Week.” NCTE, 24 Sept. 2020, https://ncte.org/blog/2020/09/41588/.
“‘About.’” Banned Books Week. 2021. https://bannedbooksweek.org/sponsors/
Mitchell, Krista. “How anyone can celebrate Banned Books Week”. Book Net Canada. 30 September 2015. https://www.booknetcanada.ca/blog/2015/9/30/how-anyone-can-celebrate-banned-books-week