Celebrate Banned Books Week Virtually!

Banned Books Week is fast approaching, but thanks to virtual programming and social media, you still have time to join the celebration September 27-October 3!

While you may not be able to hold in-person events, there are plenty of ways to engage your patrons and students using videoconferencing, webinars, and social media! Some ideas and Banned Books Week Coalition resources follow to help guide your planning!

Check back at bannedbooksweek.org or follow us on Twitter and Facebook to get more resources, find out about our events

Resources and Virtual Events From ALA OIF

ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom has programs you can participate in during Banned Books Week! A quick rundown follows, but you can find out more here.

OIF has additional program ideas in the Intellectual Freedom Blog posts “40 Virtual Program Ideas for Banned Books Week” and “Banned Books Week Take Home Kits.”

#BannedBooksWeek in Action

Each day of Banned Books Week, OIF will promote a different action that spotlights literary activism. Titled #BannedBooksWeek in Action, readers are encouraged to share their activities on social media with the hashtag, focusing on the following daily topics:

  • Sunday: Read a banned book 
  • Monday: Speak out about censorship 
  • Tuesday: Create something unrestricted 
  • Wednesday: Express the freedom to read in style 
  • Thursday: Write about your rights 
  • Friday: Watch, listen, and learn from others 
  • Saturday: Thank those who defend the freedom to read every day of the year

Dear Banned Author

The annual Dear Banned Author letter-writing campaign encourages readers to write, tweet or email their favorite banned/challenged author during Banned Books Week. Postcards, author addresses and Twitter handles, and tips for hosting virtual programs can be found at ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/dear-banned-author. Examples of letters and programs are published on the Intellectual Freedom Blog. Those who use #DearBannedAuthor on Twitter will be entered into a grand prize drawing of Banned Books Week merchandise. Details and Official Rules are listed on the Dear Banned Author webpage. 

Stand for the Banned Read-Out

Since the inception of Banned Books Week in 1982, libraries and bookstores throughout the country have staged local read-outs of banned and challenged books. The Stand for the Banned Read-Out invites readers to submit brief videos of themselves reading from a banned book or discussing censorship. Submitted videos may be added to the Banned Books Week YouTube channel.

OIF Webinars and Watch Parties

On Sept. 29, SAGE Publishing and OIF will host the free webinar “COVID-19 and Academic Censorship,” which will address e-books, internet control, and open data. The free webinar is limited to the first 1,000 guests. 

On Oct. 2, OIF will host a national watch party of “Scary Stories,” a documentary about the banned and challenged series “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” by Alvin Schwartz, followed by a Q&A with director Cody Meirick on the Banned Books Week YouTube channel. Libraries and readers are invited to stream the documentary on Tubi or Amazon Prime at 6 p.m. CST and join the conversation on Twitter using #CensorshipisScary or on the Facebook event page. Libraries are invited to host their own watch parties as a Banned Books Week program; more details are available at ala.org/bbooks/scarystories.

#NCTEChat—Find Your Freedom to Read

Join NCTE on Sunday, September 20, at 8:00 p.m. ET for an #NCTEchat in which Betsy Gomez (@BannedBooksWeek), coordinator of the Banned Books Week Coalition, will lead a conversation on Banned Books Week 2020, the annual celebration of the freedom to read.

The following questions will be shared during the Twitter chat:

WARM-UP: Please introduce yourself. Tell us your name, location, the grade level you teach, and share the books you are currently reading as we head into fall. #NCTEchat [8:04 p.m.]

Q1: The theme of this year’s #BannedBooksWeek (Sept 27–Oct 3) is Censorship Is a Dead End. What are some texts that help your students navigate the world around them and help them find their freedom to read? #NCTEchat [8:10 p.m.]

Q2: Face-to-face interaction can make it easier to teach books that some find challenging or even controversial. What are some best practices for teaching this material during virtual and socially distanced instruction? #NCTEchat [8:18 p.m.]

Q3: Many students have had limited access to reading materials and information during the pandemic. What are some resources and practices that encourage reading and enable access to information during this time? #NCTEchat [8:26 p.m.]

Q4: Books help students explore worlds, lives, and experiences beyond their own, but censorship impacts access to these stories. How do you encourage students to speak out about the books they’ve read or want to read? #NCTEchat [8:34 p.m.]

Q5: What resources (articles, policies, websites, organizations etc.) have you found useful in dealing with or preparing for challenges to your instructional material? #NCTEchat [8:42 p.m.]

Q6: How do you plan to celebrate #BannedBooksWeek and the freedom to read with your students? #NCTEchat [8:50 p.m.]

We hope to see you there! Be sure to join us by using #NCTEchat.

Never participated in a Twitter chat before? Check out this guide to help you get started.

CBLDF: Virtual Event Safety

Ensure the safety of your patrons with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund‘s best practices guide, “Virtual Event Safety.” This simple visual reference helps retailers, educators, librarians, and creators protect themselves and the people joining their virtual events!

“Virtual Event Safety” provides tips on how to protect privacy, manage inappropriate behavior, and protect young people. It also has a helpful checklist and table to help you make decisions for hosting your event.”

You can view the resource here or download the Virtual Event Safety PDF

For more tips on hosting a great virtual event, check out CBLDF’s retailer resource: Tips on Hosting a Virtual Event for Your Store.


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 AssociationAmerican Library AssociationAmerican Society of Journalists and AuthorsAssociation of University PressesAuthors GuildComic Book Legal Defense FundFoundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE)Freedom to Read FoundationIndex on CensorshipNational Coalition Against CensorshipNational Council of Teachers of EnglishPEN AmericaPeople 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.

Website: https://bannedbooksweek.org/

Twitter: @BannedBooksWeek 

Instagram: @banned_books_week

Facebook: @bannedbooksweekhttps://www.facebook.com/bannedbooksweek/