Don’t let censors take books out of our hands! Celebrate free expression during Banned Books Week (September 22 – 28, 2019). The theme of this year’s event proclaims “Censorship Leaves Us in the Dark,” urging everyone to “Keep the Light On.”
Banned Books Week is the most important opportunity during the year for advocates — publishers, booksellers, librarians, educators, journalists, and readers — to explain why we must defend everyone’s right to choose what they want to read and view. The 15 member organizations of the Banned Books Week Coalition will support your celebration with programming ideas, promotional materials, an events calendar, and other resources available at bannedbooksweek.org
Banned Books Week has been shining a light on censorship since it was founded in 1982, and the fight for free expression is as urgent as ever. In recent years, the attacks on the right to read have become bolder, as legislatures have introduced bills that would eliminate crucial safeguards for the right to read books that some people find offensive.
In recognition of National Library Week (April 7 – 13, 2019), the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom released their list of the Top 11 Most Challenged Books of 2018. In 2018, ALA tracked nearly 350 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services, as well as 483 books that were challenged or banned. ALA normally lists 10 challenged books, but for this year’s list, the last two books were tied and both were publicly burned because they contained LGBTQIA+ content. In fact, six of the books on the list were attacked for this reason, including Alex Gino’s George, A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss and EG Keller, Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey, Drama by Raina Telgemeier, This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman and Kristyna Litten, and Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan.
“Almost half of the books on the Top 11 this year (including This Day in June) were banned or challenged because they contained LGBTQ+ content,” says challenged author Gayle Pitman. “That is incredibly disturbing to me. Whether it involves removing a book from a shelf or burning a book in a trash can, all of these are attempts to erase, silence, and destroy our communities. This is an opportunity for all of us to stand up for the freedom to read, as well as for the right to see ourselves reflected in books and for our communities to exist without oppression.”
Bestselling author Judy Blume (Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret; Forever), member of the National Coalition Against Censorship’s board of directors and a long-time target of censors, affirms the importance of Banned Books Week. “It’s a chance for all of us to celebrate the books we love and to make sure we continue to work to protect our intellectual freedom.”
“The importance of Banned Books Week can never be overstated,” imparts Mitchell Kaplan, owner of Books & Books and co-founder of the Miami Book Fair International. “Independent bookstores everywhere are given the opportunity to shine a light on the importance of fighting to keep our freedom to read intact. In these precarious times, free expression must be allowed to keep the looming darkness at bay.”
Help the Banned Books Week Coalition keep the light on during Banned Books Week, September 22 – 28, 2019! Visit bannedbooksweek.org or follow us on Twitter to get the latest Banned Books Week and censorship news.
ABOUT THE BANNED BOOKS WEEK COALITION
The Banned Books Week Coalition is an international alliance of diverse organizations joined by a commitment to increase awareness of the annual celebration of the freedom to read. The Coalition seeks to engage various communities and inspire participation in Banned Books Week through education, advocacy, and the creation of programming about the problem of book censorship.
The Banned Books Week Coalition includes American Booksellers Association; American Library Association; American Society of Journalists and Authors; Association of University Presses; Authors Guild; Comic Book Legal Defense Fund; Dramatists Legal Defense Fund; Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE); Freedom to Read Foundation; Index on Censorship; National Coalition Against Censorship; National Council of Teachers of English; PEN America; People For the American Way Foundation; and Project Censored. It is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. Banned Books Week also receives generous support from DKT Liberty Project and Penguin Random House.