How will your library celebrate the freedom to read during Banned Books Week (BBW) September 27-October 3, 2015? Sponsored by 13 organizations, Banned Books Week has been observed annually since 1982. That’s 33 years of fighting censorship! According to American Library Association statistics, approximately 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982 (ABFE). A March 2015 Harris poll reported that of the over 2,200 adults surveyed, many want to protect children from books with controversial topics, explicit language, sex, drugs, alcohol and vampires (Peet).
This year Banned Books Week will focus on young adult books which are often targets of censors. The 2014 Top 10 Most Frequently Challenged Books includes YA books such as:
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
- Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi
- The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
- The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
There are many resources available to help you prepare for Banned Books Week including:
- The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom webinar:
- 9/29/2015 1 hour webinar, “How to Protect the Freedom to Read in Your Library.” Use this link to register. Presenters include a school librarian, a university librarian, and Kristin Pekoll, deputy director at the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom. Webinars are recorded, and a link to the recording is automatically emailed to all registrants.
- The Banned Books Week website holds information on censorship and offers resources and ideas for celebrating the freedom to read.
- Check out the 2014 Top 10 Challenged Books infographic from the ALA “State of American Libraries 2015” report.
- Peruse the ALA Bookstore Banned Books Week merchandise including posters, buttons, t-shirts, and bookmarks.
- The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s “Banned Books Week Handbook” provides background on censorship of comics, examples of challenged comics, banned books myths, steps you can take to fight censorship, and ideas for celebrating BBW.
- Here’s an attention getter-Random House’s downloadable poster: “Censorship Causes Blindness.”
- Pinterest boards hold many ideas for BBW displays, posters, contest ideas, and infographics.
What else can you do? Kristin Pekoll, assistant director for the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, has advice for school librarian, “I understand that not every school librarian is in a climate where the feel comfortable putting up a Banned Books Week display, but there are plenty of opportunities to initiate dialogue with teachers, students, administrators, and school board members about the First Amendment and censorship” (Kristin Pekoll, email message to author, August 18, 2015).
The list of resources is a starting point to get your creative thoughts going. If you have other Banned Books Week resources or ideas to share, post them as a comment to this blog.
American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFE). “Banned Books Week.” http://www.bookweb.org/abfe/banned-books-week/.
Peet, Lisa. (2015) “Harris Poll Shows Growing Support for Book Banning, Ratings.” Library Journal, July 31, 2015. http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2015/07/censorship-2/harris-poll-shows-growing-support-for-book-banning-ratings/#_/.
Banned Book Week 2015 artwork courtesy of the American Library Association. http://www.ala.org/bbooks/bannedbooksweek/ideasandresources/freedownloads
Author: Helen Adams
A former school librarian in Wisconsin, Helen Adams is an online senior lecturer for Antioch University-Seattle in the areas of intellectual freedom, privacy, library ethics, and copyright. A member of the AASL Knowledge Quest Advisory Board, the ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee, and a KQ blogger, she is the author of Protecting Intellectual Freedom and Privacy in Your School Library (Libraries Unlimited, 2013) and contributor to The Many Faces of School Library Leadership (2nd edition, Libraries Unlimited, 2017). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.