Tag: book bans

TODAY: Take Action During Right to Read Day!

In conjunction with the release of today’s Top 10 Most Challenged Books list, ALA has called for a national day of action to protect libraries and the freedom to read — Right to Read Day! Right to Read Day also marks the first anniversary of the ALA-founded Unite Against Book Bans campaign, a public-facing advocacy initiative to empower readers everywhere to stand together in the fight against censorship.

“Right to Read Day is a national day of action—not just acknowledgement,” said ALA President Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada. “ALA calls on readers everywhere to show our commitment to the First Amendment by doing something concrete to preserve it.

“The fight against censorship is too big for one person or library or organization to take on alone. And we don’t have to. That’s why ALA created Unite Against Book Bans: to be a collective voice in defending the right to read.”

Since the movement was launched in April 2022, Unite Against Book Bans has created and curated a set of free advocacy resources and provided direct support to community organizers. Local advocates have used and adapted these resources to fight censorship in communities like Llano County and League City, Texas, and in states like Missouri and Louisiana. ALA and its Unite Against Book Bans partners—individuals, authors, publishers, educators, advocacy groups and library organizations of all stripes—are calling on readers to take action on Right to Read Day and beyond.

Suggested Right to Read Day actions include:

  • Borrow a library book at risk of being banned.
  • Write a letter to the editor or to an elected leader.
  • Attend a meeting of local officials or library or school board.
  • Stage a public event or peaceful protest in support of libraries.
  • Report censorship.
  • Join Unite Against Book Bans.

Right to Read Day resources, including social media assets, are available at https://uniteagainstbookbans.org/right-to-read-day/

“Readers who think, ‘this will never happen in our community,’ need to think again. More than half the states have legislation proposed or passed that would take library books off the shelves, punish library workers who dare to make books accessible and silence the voices of LGBTQ, BIPOC and other authors. Speaking up and raising our voices now can stop censorship where it’s happening and prevent censorship where it’s just getting started.”

In addition to the call to action, Unite Against Book Bans partners will host Protecting Free Expression and the Right to Read, a virtual conversation with partners from ALA, PEN America and National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) prompted by “Forever Judy Blume,” the new documentary about renowned author and right to read advocate Judy Blume. ALA President Pelayo-Lozada, PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel and NCAC Executive Director Christopher Finan will sit down with the documentary’s co-directors to discuss Judy Blume’s trailblazing work and the unprecedented surge of censorship sweeping across the country. Registration is required for the free virtual event, which will take place today at 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT.

About National Library Week  

National Library Week is an annual celebration highlighting the valuable role libraries, librarians, and library workers play in transforming lives and strengthening our communities. Established in 1957, the first National Library Week was based on the idea that once people were motivated to read, they would support and use libraries. The 2023 celebration marks the 65th anniversary of the first event.

ALA Releases Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2022 List

Today, the American Library Association (ALA) kicked off National Library Week with the release of its highly anticipated list of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2022 and the State of America’s Libraries Report, which tells the story of how libraries are innovating and adapting to improve the well-being of their communities in the midst of censorship challenges. This year, however, there were multiple books that received the same number of challenges – resulting in the expansion of the list to 13 titles.

Libraries in every state faced another year of unprecedented attempts to ban books. In 2022, ALA tracked the highest number of censorship reports since the association began compiling data about library censorship more than 20 years ago. ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 2,571 unique titles targeted for censorship, a 38% increase from the 1,858 unique titles targeted in 2021. Most of the targeted books were written by or about members of the LGBTQIA+ community and people of color.

“By releasing the list of Top 10 Most Challenged Books each year, ALA recognizes all of the brave authors whose work challenges readers with stories that disrupt the status quo and offer fresh perspectives on tough issues,” said ALA President Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada. “The list also illustrates how frequently stories by or about LGBTQ+ persons, people of color, and lived experiences are being targeted by censors. Closing our eyes to the reality portrayed in these stories will not make life’s challenges disappear. Books give us courage and help us understand each other.

It’s time to take action on behalf of authors, library staff, and the communities they serve. ALA calls on readers everywhere to show your commitment to the freedom to read by doing something to protect it.”

Below are the most Top 13 Most Challenged Books of 2022:

  1. Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
    Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, claimed to be sexually explicit
  1. All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
    Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, claimed to be sexually explicit
  1. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: depiction of sexual abuse, claimed to be sexually explicit, EDI content
  1. Flamer by Mike Curato
    Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, claimed to be sexually explicit
  1. (TIE) Looking for Alaska by John Green
    Reasons: Claimed to be sexually explicit, LGBTQIA+ content
  1. (TIE) The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
    Reasons: Claimed to be sexually explicit, LGBTQIA+ content, depiction of sexual abuse, drugs, profanity
  1. Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison
    Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, claimed to be sexually explicit
  1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: Claimed to be sexually explicit, profanity
  1. Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez
    Reasons: Claimed to be sexually explicit
  1. (TIE) A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
    Reasons: Claimed to be sexually explicit
  1. (TIE) Crank by Ellen Hopkins
    Reasons: Claimed to be sexually explicit, drugs
  1. (TIE) Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
    Reasons: Claimed to be sexually explicit, profanity
  1. (TIE) This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson
    Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, sex education, claimed to be sexually explicit

Top 10 artwork is available for download at: https://bit.ly/ALA-Top10

In response to the uptick in book challenges and other efforts to suppress access to information, ALA has designated every Monday of National Library Week moving forward as Right to Read Day, a day of action that encourages communities to fight back against censorship and to protect and celebrate the right to read freely. This year’s National Library Week also marks the one-year anniversary of the launch of Unite Against Book Bans, a nationwide initiative that empowers readers everywhere to stand together in the fight against censorship. More information is available at uniteagainstbookbans.org.

About the American Library Association
The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit www.ala.org.

There’s More to the Story: Celebrate National Library Week (April 23-29, 2023)

National Library Week (April 23 – 29, 2023) is a time to celebrate our nation’s libraries, library workers’ contributions and promote library use and support. The theme for National Library Week 2023 is “There’s More to the Story,” illustrating the fact that in addition to the books in library collections, available in a variety of formats, libraries offer so much more. Many libraries now lend items like museum passes, games, musical instruments, and tools. Library programming brings communities together for entertainment, education, and connection through book clubs, storytimes, movie nights, crafting classes, and lectures. And library infrastructure advances communities, providing internet and technology access, literacy skills, and support for businesses, job seekers, and entrepreneurs.

The American Library Association (ALA) kicks off National Library Week with the release of its State of America’s Libraries Report, including the list of Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2022

National Library Week Events

Monday, April 24: Right to Read Day, a day for readers, advocates, and library lovers to take action to protect, defend, and celebrate the right to read. State of America’s Libraries Report released.
Tuesday, April 25: National Library Workers Day, a day for library staff, users, administrators, and Friends groups to recognize the valuable contributions made by all library workers.
Wednesday, April 26: National Library Outreach Day (formerly National Bookmobile Day), a day to celebrate library outreach and the dedicated library professionals who are meeting their patrons where they are.
Thursday, April 27: Take Action for Libraries Day, a day to rally advocates to support libraries.

Find more information, downloadable assets, and much more here.

Strong Finish for Banned Books Week with Friday and Saturday Events

Banned Books Week is drawing to close, but there are still plenty of ways to engage! Don’t miss events bestselling authors Jennifer Niven (All the Bright Places, Breathless), George M. Johnson (All Boys Aren’t Blue), Kyle Lukoff (When Aidan Became a Brother, Too Bright to See), and more! Keep reading…

For a complete event listing, please visit our events calendar here.

Friday Featured Events

A Conversation with Author Jennifer Niven

Virtual Event • 12:00 p.m. CDT
Organized by ALA OIF

Join New York Times-bestselling author Jennifer Niven for a conversation about censorship and the implications for teens and the communities where book bans happen. Niven is the award-winning author of eleven books, including YA novels All the Bright Places, Holding up the Universe, Breathless, and Take Me With You When You Go (with David Levithan). … Read More

Banned Books Bingo

Virtual Event • 3:00 p.m. EDT
Organized by American Booksellers Association

On September 12, at 3 p.m. ET, you are invited to join host Drag Queen Nebuer Styles for Banned Books Bingo. The Banned Books Bingo game card is available in ABA’s Banned Books Week digital assets. This virtual bingo game will not only be a lot of fun but it will also provide a blueprint … Read More

Author Talk: George M. Johnson All Boys Aren’t Blue

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library 901 G St NW, Washington, DC • 7:00 p.m EDT
Organized by DC Public Library

In recognition of Banned Books Week, DC Public Library welcomes George M. Johnson, award-winning author of “All Boys Aren’t Blue” and “We Are Not Broken.” The DC Public Library is thrilled to host author and activist George M. Johnson, honorary chair of the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week initiative. Johnson’s memoir “All Boys Aren’t Blue” has become … Read More

Saturday Featured Events

Let’s Get Organized: Fighting Book Bans Together

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library 901 G St NW, Washington, DC • 1:00 p.m. EDT
Organized by PEN America

For Banned Books Week, National Book Award–honored author Kyle Lukoff (Too Bright to See, 2021 Young People’s Literature Finalist), DC Public Library Teen Services Coordinator Joanna Harris, and Managing Director of PEN America Washington and Free Expression Programs Nadine Farid Johnson sit down to discuss the value of writing, publishing, and access to diverse books, and how we can come together and unite … Read More

The Battle for the Right to Read What You Want

Brooklyn Public Library 10 Grand Army Plz, Brooklyn, NY • 4:00 p.m. EDT
Organized by Brooklyn Public Library

Last month Summer Boismier, a high school English teacher in Norman, Oklahoma, lost her job when she provided students with the QR Code to Brooklyn Public Library’s “Books Unbanned” initiative, which gives out-of-state teens access to the Library’s eBook collection, including books that might be banned where they live. Boismier’s story went viral and became … Read More

Celebrating Black Gay Literature Amidst a Wave of Book Bans

Source Booksellers 4240 Cass Avenue, Unit 105, Detroit, MI • 6:00 p.m. EDT
Organized by PEN Ameerica

Join PEN America Detroit for a Banned Book Week in-person discussion on the anti-Blackness and homophobia inherent in the slate of book bans around the country. This conversation will offer strategies on how to push back against the recent book bans, while also offering a space to celebrate black gay literature in all of its permutations. Moderated … Read More

It’s Your Right to Read!

Banned Books Week offers an opportunity for readers to voice censorship concerns, celebrate free expression and show their communities the importance of intellectual freedom. The Banned Books Week Coalition partnered with HarperCollins Childrens BooksLittle Free Library, and Bookshop.org on resources to help people know their rightsreport censorship, and get involved. Check them out the resources here.

Download a full PDF of the new resource here.

Full Steam Ahead for Thursday Banned Books Week Programming!

Banned Books Week may be drawing to a close in a couple days, but we’re not slowing down! Thursday is packed with amazing programming, from our Facebook Live with censored comics creators Maia Kobabe and Mike Curato to a slew of virtual and in-person events that focus on strategies for fighting censorship. Keep reading!

For a complete event listing, please visit our events calendar here.

Banned Books Week Coalition Events

The Censorship of LGBTQ+ Comic Books with Maia Kobabe and Mike Curato

Virtual Event • 5:00 p.m. EDT

Comic books have been targeted by censors for decades, from 1954 Senate subcommittee hearings about their alleged link to juvenile delinquency, to the implementation of a content code that nearly destroyed the industry, to today’s widespread attacks on comics, especially those that share the stories of LGBTQ+ individuals. Join the creators of two of today’s … Read More

Featured Events

Practical Strategies for Defending Books in Your Library

Virtual Event • 12:00 p.m. CDT
Organized by ALA OIF

How would you handle an attempt to censor books in your library? In this program, we’ll use ripped-from-the-headlines scenarios as discussion prompts to provide practical strategies and resources that librarians can use to inform their defense of challenged materials. The conversation will be lead by librarians from a variety of backgrounds: Moni Barrette (President, Graphic … Read More

Books on the Chopping Block

DePaul University Library 2350 N. Kenmore Ave., Chicago, IL • 2:00 p.m. CDT
Organized by City Lit Theater

FREE readings around Chicago and Chicago suburbs.  Various venues.  See website for full list of events. Books on the Chopping Block is our annual 60-minute performance of dramatic readings of short excerpts taken from these books. City Lit has teamed up with the ALA in celebration of Banned Books Week since 2006, performing at special … Read More

Free Banned Books Week Event With Dr. Ibram X. Kendi and Rep. Cori Bush

Busboys and Poets (Anacostia) 2004 Martin Luther King Junior Avenue Southeast, Washington DC • 6:00 p.m. EDT
Organized by The Emancipator

The Emancipator and Busboys and Poets invite you to an in-person conversation with Dr. Ibram X. Kendi and Rep. Cori Bush to commemorate Banned Books Week. Come out for a lively discussion on the implications of book bans, as well as the growing embrace of censorship of all kinds in political rhetoric on Capitol Hill, … Read More

Free Speech & Banned Books: A Conversation with Azar Nafisi

Utah Museum of Fine Arts 410 Campus Center Drive, Salt Lake City, UT • 4:00 p.m. MDT
Organized by PEN America

PEN America Utah, the Tanner Humanities Center at the University of Utah, and author Azar Nafisi are partnering for an in-person conversation at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts on Thursday, September 22 that will explore the role Humanities and Liberal Arts play in the preservation of democracy. This unscripted discussion will draw upon Nafisi’s own … Read More

This Story Matters: An Intellectual Freedom Discussion with NCTE Affiliates

Virtual Event • 7:00 P.M. EDT
Organized by NCTE

As the school year begins, teachers and students are facing challenges to their intellectual freedom like never before. From state legislation to executive orders to school district policies to administrator actions, book bans are at an all-time high, and teacher shortages are affecting every corner of the nation. But as an ELA educator, you do … Read More

FREEDOM TO READ: Fighting Book Banning and Censorship in Our Libraries with Deborah Caldwell-Stone and Bridget Quinn

Virtual Event • 8:00 p.m. EDT

In observance of Banned Book Week, MTH&M and Hartford Public Library present a virtual conversation between Deborah Caldwell-Stone, executive director of the Freedom to Read Foundation, and the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom, and Hartford Public Library CEO Bridget Quinn. Presented in partnership with the Unite Against Book Bans campaign.  Upon its publication in 1885, Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was immediately banned … Read More

Intellectual Freedom & You: A Banned Books Week Webinar

Virtual Event • 7:00 p.m. CDT

Book bans are on the rise across the country as states seemingly compete to see who can place the most restrictions on free speech. As this latest wave of censorship activity continues to build, what is your role as a library user? In this interactive webinar during Banned Books Week, you’ll learn about why intellectual freedom … Read More

From Howl to Now: Book Bans in the US

Virtual Event • 6:00 p.m. PDT
Organized by PEN America

City Lights in conjunction with PEN America present FROM HOWL TO NOW: BOOK BANS IN THE U.S. Moderated by Ipek Burnett with appearances by Marcus Ewert, Justin Hall, Dr. Jewell Parker Rhodes and Dashka Slater During Banned Books Week, PEN America and Bay Area authors come together to discuss the alarming rise in book bans … Read More

It’s Your Right to Read!

Banned Books Week offers an opportunity for readers to voice censorship concerns, celebrate free expression and show their communities the importance of intellectual freedom. The Banned Books Week Coalition partnered with HarperCollins Childrens BooksLittle Free Library, and Bookshop.org on resources to help people know their rightsreport censorship, and get involved. Check them out the resources here.

Download a full PDF of the new resource here.

Literary Stars Align for Wednesday Banned Books Week Programs!

We’re halfway through Banned Books Week, and the stars are bright in today’s events! The Banned Books Week Coalition is honored to host Angie Thomas and Jerry Craft for a Facebook livestream; Banned Books Week Honorary Chair George M. Johnson moderates an event on LGBTQ+ censorship; Banned Books Week Youth Honorary Chair Cameron Samuels joins other community organizers to talk about their experiences fighting book bans; Booklist hosts a conversation with Nikole Hannah-Jones, Renée Watson, Kim Johnson, and Kyle Lukoff; and Ali Velshi will moderate a panel with author Laurie Halse Anderson and others. And there’s so much more going on!

For a complete event listing, please visit our events calendar here.

Banned Books Week Coalition Events

A Conversation About Banned Books with Angie Thomas and Jerry Craft

Virtual Event • 6:00 p.m. EDT

Join New York Times bestselling authors Angie Thomas (The Hate U GiveOn the Come UpConcrete Rose) and Jerry Craft (New KidClass Act) for a conversation about the censorship of books dealing with racial identity and racism. The authors will discuss the censorship of their work and the implications for readers, authors, and the community. They will be joined by Jeremy C. Young, Senior … Read More

Featured Events

Breaking Bans: A Celebration of Challenged Books

Virtual Event • 2:00 p.m EDT
Organized by Booklist

Join Penguin Random House and Booklist for a special Banned Books Week event to hear from authors Nikole Hannah-Jones (The 1619 Project), Renée Watson (The 1619 Project: Born on the Water), Kim Johnson (This is My America), and Kyle Lukoff (Different Kinds of Fruit and Too Bright to See), who have all experienced first-hand having … Read More

Books on the Chopping Block! Banned Books Week Performance

John T Richardson Library 2350 North Kenmore Avenue, Chicago, IL • 1:00 p.m. CDT
Organized by City Lit Theater

The DePaul University Library welcomes City Lit Theater for Books on the Chopping Block! a performance of selections from the most frequently banned and challenged books of 2021. Q&A with the performers to follow. This is a hybrid event, open to the DePaul University community and our neighbors. Join us via Zoom or in person … Read More

How to Fight Book Bans in Your Community

Virtual Event • 1:30 p.m. CDT
Organized by ALA OIF

New day, new censorship! Attempts to remove books from school and public libraries are on the rise, leaving many librarians and members of the communities they support with a sense of powerlessness. But you are not alone! Learn about ways you can support libraries and combat censorship from experienced activists who have been defending the … Read More

Restricted Access: The American History of Book Banning

New York Public Library: Celeste Bartos Forum 476 Fifth Ave, New York, NY • 6:00 p.m. EDT
Organized by PEN America

Censorship and book bans are nothing new in American life. In the 19th century, it was the federal Comstock laws barring the delivery and distribution of “every obscene, lewd, or lascivious” book. Today, books that highlight race, gender, or sexuality are being yanked from public shelves around the country. Join PEN America and the New … Read More

Resisting Censorship in Austin – A Community Reading of Banned Books

Spider House Ballroom 2908 Fruth St, Austin, TX • 6:00 pm CDT
Organized by PEN America

Join PEN Austin as we celebrate the right to read during Banned Book Week 2022 with a community reading of banned books. There has been a deluge of book bans in Texas. PEN America’s Index of School Book Bans has listed 1,586 instances of individual books being banned within a nine-month period, 712 from the state of Texas alone; … Read More

Claiming Our Stories: LGBTQ Book Bans in America

Virtual Event • 7:30 p.m. EDT
Organized by GLAAD and The Emancipator

Amidst the growing threat of LGBTQ book bans nationwide, The Emancipator and GLAAD are teaming up to present a virtual Banned Books Week event at 7:30 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Sept. 21, featuring some of the nation’s best known LGBTQ authors and illustrators. The dialogue will be moderated by Banned Books Week Honorary Chair George M. Johnson, … Read More

Banned Books and Body Autonomy in Birmingham

Burdock Book Collective 4413 5th Avenue South, Birmingham, AL • 6:30 p.m. CDT
Organized by PEN America

Join PEN Birmingham for an intimate conversation centering the issue of restrictive book bans targeting women, queer, trans and intersex people in an era of increasing threats to body autonomy. In Alabama, sex education is not currently mandated, and schools that do teach sex education must emphasize abstinence. Books that offer perspectives of LGBTQ+ people are routinely … Read More

Virtual Event: Defending LGBTQ Literature in Oklahoma

Virtual Event • 7:00 pm CDT
Organized by PEN America

Join PEN Tulsa for a virtual conversation addressing the homophobia and transphobia embedded in the recent wave of book bans in Oklahoma and across the country. Moderated by Tulsa-based writer and publisher Ryan Fitzgibbon, the conversation will feature celebrated author and illustrator Mike Curato and PEN Across America Director Program William Johnson. This conversation will offer strategies on how to push back against … Read More

It’s Your Right to Read!

Banned Books Week offers an opportunity for readers to voice censorship concerns, celebrate free expression and show their communities the importance of intellectual freedom. The Banned Books Week Coalition partnered with HarperCollins Childrens BooksLittle Free Library, and Bookshop.org on resources to help people know their rightsreport censorship, and get involved. Check them out the resources here.

Download a full PDF of the new resource here.

Ban These Books? Let’s Talk

America’s burgeoning cultural wars have swept into school and community libraries, where works from Huckleberry Finn to Toni Morrison’s Beloved have long faced challenges. Now, a new politically charged wave of book-banning sentiment takes aim at titles on sexual and racial identity.

Marking this year’s observance of Banned Books Week, September 18-24, a panel of veteran librarians from Kansas City-area library systems examines the issue and walks through a range of books that have been targeted for removal or restriction in public libraries and schools. Joining the discussion, which is moderated by Kaite Stover, the Kansas City Public Library’s director of readers’ services, are:

  • Cass County Public Library Director Dan Brower
  • Lacie Griffin, collection development and interlibrary loan manager at the Johnson County Library
  • Longtime Kansas City Public Schools librarian Rebecca Marcum Parker
  • Debbie Stoppello, director of library collections at the Kansas City Public Library

Advocates of book bans often point to specific content that they maintain is too graphic and inappropriate for younger readers. Many students and parents have pushed back against those challenges, however. They join a wider call for intellectual freedom and inclusive collections in school and other libraries, and libraries themselves remain resistant to allowing an individual or single group to dictate what everyone can read.

Banned Books Read-In at North Central College

Celebrate your favorite banned books out loud with the Shimer Great Books School! The Shimer Great Books School at North Central College invites you to a “read-in” in our Oesterle Library and Learning Commons. Bring a selection from your favorite banned book to read out loud, discuss with Shimer students and faculty, and learn more about how Shimer keeps banned books in the conversation. Shimer students and faculty will be present to answer questions about our program and dinner will be served for attendees.

Don’t Miss These Banned Books Week Coalition Facebook Live Events!

Banned Books is almost here! Banned Books Week officially kicks off on Sunday, and we’re excited to have an amazing lineup of Facebook livestreams to mark the week! Check them out!

All events are free — simply join the Banned Books Week Facebook page at the appointed hour! These are a great opportunity to engage your students or patrons in Banned Books Week programming, and each event will feature a short Q&A.

Youth Honorary Chair Cameron Samuels Leads a Conversation on Youth Activism

Monday, September 19, 6:00 p.m. EDT

What is it like to be the only teen protesting censorship at school board meetings? How do you go from being the only voice of opposition to leading the fight against censorship in your community – and inspiring others to do the same? In this program, Banned Books Week Honorary Chair Cameron Samuels (they/them) will lead a conversation with youth activists from around the United States. These inspiring young leaders will talk about their experiences and share their ideas for how others can get involved! More info…

Banned Books Week Honorary Chair George M. Johnson’s Moment in the Spotlight

Tuesday, September 20, 1:00 p.m. EDT

Join Banned Books Week Honorary Chair George M. Johnson for an intimate conversation about censorship and how it impacts readers, especially young adults. Johnson will discuss the censorship of their critically acclaimed bestselling novel All Boys Aren’t Blue, which was the third title on the American Library Association’s Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2021, and the ongoing attacks on books and information related to LGBTQ+ identity. This one-on-one conversation will be led by Freedom to Read Foundation President and librarian Peter Coyl and include a short Q&A. More info…

Angie Thomas and Jerry Craft Get Real About Censorship

Wednesday, September 21, 6:00 p.m. EDT

Join New York Times bestselling authors Angie Thomas (The Hate U GiveOn the Come UpConcrete Rose) and Jerry Craft (New KidClass Act) for a conversation about the censorship of books dealing with racial identity and racism. The authors will discuss the censorship of their work and the implications for readers, authors, and the community. They will be joined by Jeremy C. Young, Senior Manager of Free Expression and Education at PEN America, who will offer perspective on how legislation is impacting and even fueling censorship. The program will be moderated by Amber Payne Co-Editor in Chief for The Emancipator, a digital commentary platform born from a collaboration between The Boston Globe and Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research.

Event made possible with the support of HarperCollins Publishers. More info…

Maia Kobabe and Mike Curato Explain Why LGBTQ+ Comics Belong in Schools and Libraries

Thursday, September 22, 5:00 p.m. EDT

Comic books have been targeted by censors for decades, from 1954 Senate subcommittee hearings about their alleged link to juvenile delinquency, to the implementation of a content code that nearly destroyed the industry, to today’s widespread attacks on comics, especially those that share the stories of LGBTQ+ individuals. Join the creators of two of today’s most acclaimed and frequently censored graphic novels — Maia Kobabe (Gender Queer) and Mike Curato (Flamer) — for a conversation about the attempts to censor their work and LGBTQ+ stories. Greg Rokisky, Senior Manager of Digital Strategy at PFLAG National, and Jordan Smith, Digital Editor at Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, will lead the conversation. More info…

Can’t make it live? We have you covered! All events will be recorded and released on the Banned Books Week YouTube channel after Banned Books Week.

The individual members of the Banned Books Week Coalition are also hosting events throughout the week! We’ll have a rundown for you before it kicks off, and you can find them in the Banned Books Week events calendar here. (Hint: Look for the Featured events!)


Banned Books Week is the annual celebration of the freedom to read. The event is sponsored by a coalition of organizations dedicated to free expression, including American Booksellers for Free Expression, American Library Association, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Amnesty International USA, Association of University Presses, Authors Guild, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), Freedom to Read Foundation, GLAAD, Index on Censorship, National Book Foundation, National Coalition Against Censorship, National Council of Teachers of English, PEN America, People For the American Way Foundation, PFLAG, 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 HarperCollins Publishers and Penguin Random House.

A Conversation About Banned Books with Angie Thomas and Jerry Craft

Join New York Times bestselling authors Angie Thomas (The Hate U GiveOn the Come UpConcrete Rose) and Jerry Craft (New KidClass Act) for a conversation about the censorship of books dealing with racial identity and racism. The authors will discuss the censorship of their work and the implications for readers, authors, and the community. They will be joined by Jeremy C. Young, Senior Manager of Free Expression and Education at PEN America, who will offer perspective on how legislation is impacting and even fueling censorship. The program will be moderated by Amber Payne, Co-Editor in Chief for The Emancipator, a digital commentary platform born from a collaboration between The Boston Globe and Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research.

This event will stream LIVE on the Banned Books Week Facebook page on September 21 at 6:00 p.m. EDT: @BannedBooksWeek

This event made possible with the support of HarperCollins Publishers. 

About the Panelists

Angie Thomas was born and raised in Mississippi, but now calls Atlanta her home. She is a former teen rapper whose greatest accomplishment was an article about her in Right-On Magazine. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Belhaven University and an unofficial degree in Hip Hop. She can also still rap if needed. 

Angie is an inaugural winner of the Walter Dean Myers Grant 2015, awarded by We Need Diverse Books. Her debut novel, The Hate U Give, started as a senior project in college. It was later acquired by the Balzer+Bray imprint of HarperCollins Publishers in a 13-publisher auction and debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, winning the ALA’s William C. Morris Debut Award and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award (USA), the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize (UK), and the Deutscher Jugendliterapreis (Germany). The Hate U Give was adapted into a critically acclaimed film from Fox 2000, starring Amandla Stenberg and directed by George Tillman, Jr.

Angie’s second novel, On the Come Up, is a #1 New York Times bestseller as well, and a film is in development with Paramount Pictures with Angie acting as a producer. In 2020, Angie released Find Your Voice: A Guided Journal to Writing Your Truth as a tool to help aspiring writers tell their stories. In 2021, Angie returned to the world of Garden Heights with Concrete Rose, a prequel to The Hate U Give focused on seventeen-year-old Maverick Carter that debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list.

Jerry Craft is the New York Times bestselling author and illustrator of the graphic novels New Kid and Class Act. New Kid is the only book in history to win the John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature (2020); the Kirkus Prize for Young Readers’ Literature (2019); and the Coretta Scott King Author Award for the most outstanding work by an African American writer (2020). Jerry was born in Harlem and grew up in the Washington Heights section of New York City.

Jeremy C. Young is the senior manager of free expression and education at PEN America. In this role, he advances PEN America’s advocacy for free expression in educational institutions, advocates against censorious legislation and politically-motivated efforts to ban books and curricular materials, and supports academic freedom in higher education and the freedom to read, learn, and teach in K-12 schools. A former history professor, Young holds a Ph.D. in U.S. history from Indiana University and is the author of The Age of Charisma: Leaders, Followers, and Emotions in American Society, 1870-1940 (Cambridge University Press, 2017). He was a 2021 New Leaders Council Fellow and a recipient of the Roger D. Bridges Distinguished Service Award from the Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.

About the Moderator

Amber Payne is co-editor in chief of The Emancipator, a multimedia publication created to reimagine the first abolitionist newspapers in the United States and reframe the national conversation around race and equity. This collaboration between The Boston Globe and Dr. Ibram Kendi’s Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University will amplify critical voices, ideas, data, and debates around hastening racial justice.  

Amber was a 2021 Nieman fellow at Harvard University. She formerly served as managing editor of BET.com, overseeing the daily editorial output and leading digital video strategy. Prior to that, Amber was executive producer of Teen Vogue and Them. In 2015 she launched NBCBLK, a section of NBCNews.com dedicated to elevating the conversation around Black identity, social issues, and culture. Amber started her career at NBC Nightly News producing breaking news and feature stories.  Raised in Southern Maryland, she is a graduate of the University of Virginia. 

Spotlight on George M. Johnson

Join Banned Books Week Honorary Chair George M. Johnson for an intimate conversation about censorship and how it impacts readers, especially young adults. Johnson will discuss the censorship of their critically acclaimed bestselling novel All Boys Aren’t Blue, which was the third title on the American Library Association’s Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2021, and the ongoing attacks on books and information related to LGBTQ+ identity. This one-on-one conversation will be led by Freedom to Read Foundation President and librarian Peter Coyl and include a short Q&A.

This event will stream LIVE on the Banned Books Week Facebook page on September 20 at 1:00 p.m. EDT: @BannedBooksWeek

About George M. Johnson

George M. Johnson (they/them) is a writer and activist based in New York. They have written on race, gender, sex, and culture for Essence, the Advocate, BuzzFeed News, Teen Vogue, and more than forty other national publications. George has appeared on BuzzFeed’s AM2DM as well as on MSNBC. All Boys Aren’t Blue is their debut, and was an Amazon Best Book of the Year, an Indie Bestseller, a People Magazine Best Book of the Year, and optioned for television by Gabrielle Union. The New York Times called it “an exuberant, unapologetic memoir infused with a deep but cleareyed love for its subjects.

About the Moderator

Peter Coyl (he/him) is the Library Director & CEO of the Sacramento Public Library.  He is also the President of the Freedom to Read Foundation and serves on ALA Council representing the Intellectual Freedom Round Table.  He is a member of the American Library Assocations’s Intellectual Freedom Committee, and served as Chair of the Stonewall Book Awards Committee and as Chair of ALA’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table (now the Rainbow Round Table), and as a member of the Public Library Assocaitions’s Task Force on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice.

The Kids Are Alright: Youth Activists on Fighting Censorship

What is it like to be the only teen protesting censorship at school board meetings? How do you go from being the only voice of opposition to leading the fight against censorship in your community – and inspiring others to do the same? In this program, Banned Books Week Youth Honorary Chair Cameron Samuels (they/them) will lead a conversation with youth activists from around the United States. These inspiring young leaders will talk about their experiences and share their ideas for how others can get involved!  

This event will stream LIVE on the Banned Books Week Facebook page on September 19 at 6:00 p.m. EDT: @BannedBooksWeek

About the Panelists

Cameron Samuels (they/them) recently graduated from the Katy Independent School District in Texas, where they organized the FReadom Week initiative to eventually distribute a total of 700+ challenged or banned books. Once the only student to speak at school board meetings, receiving no applause while other speakers called for book banning, Samuels built a student-led movement within months by packing school board meetings and continuously outnumbering the opposition. Decisions were made to keep certain books on shelves, and while currently a student at Brandeis University, Samuels’ efforts to combat censorship across the state of Texas and the nation are ongoing. Samuels is the inaugural Youth Honorary Chair of Banned Books Week.

Gabrielle Izu (she/her) is a current International Relations and Global Studies major at the University of Texas at Austin and is passionate about community enriching volunteering and activism. She has been an advocate against discriminatory book bans since early 2021 and firmly believes that the banning of affirming books is detrimental to underrepresented communities everywhere.

Olivia Pituch (she/her) is an 18-year-old activist and member of the LGBTQ+ community. She served as Secretary and Social Media Advisor on the executive board of the Panther Anti-Racist Union, a student-run club at Central York High School. Along with her fellow officers, Olivia organized multiple protests that led to the reversal of a book ban instituted by the district school board, which removed more than 300+ books on diversity. With the need for activism, Olivia found her voice and hopes to spread this message across the country, uplifting and empowering the voices of the youth to effect positive change. She plans to continue the fight for diversity and representation by majoring in the field of Political Science at Elizabethtown College. 

Shiva Rajbhandari (he/him) is a senior at Boise High and a community organizer against extremism in Idaho politics. Earlier this month, he gained national recognition after defeating an incumbent associated with far-right organizations on the Boise School District Board of Trustees. Rajbhandari has also organized students to stand up to the Idaho Lt. Governor’s “Indoctrination Task Force” and bans teaching about systemic racism in schools. As the first student and only person of color to serve on the Board, Rajbhandari is an advocate for student empowerment and teacher freedom in and out of the classroom.

Claiming Our Stories: LGBTQ Book Bans in America

Amidst the growing threat of LGBTQ book bans nationwide, The Emancipator and GLAAD are teaming up to present a virtual Banned Books Week event at 7:30 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Sept. 21, featuring some of the nation’s best known LGBTQ authors and illustrators.

The dialogue will be moderated by Banned Books Week Honorary Chair George M. Johnson, an award-winning nonbinary activist and author of “All Boys Aren’t Blue.” The roundtable also includes Sarah Kate Ellis (president and CEO of GLAAD, “All Moms”), Daniel Haack (“Prince & Knight”), Isabel Galupo (“Maiden & Princess”), Leah Johnson (“You Should See Me In A Crown”), and Harry Woodgate (“Grandad’s Camper”).

Johnson and the panelists will discuss the disturbing rise in LGBTQ book bans and assess whether parents or the political winds are the driving force. The conversation will address the racial undertones of book bans, and the divisive nature of book banning as a point of entry into excluding people and experiences that don’t conform to rigid, homophobic, racist, and xenophobic values. Panelists will also ponder the impact of book bans on LGBTQ literature: Will they intimidate and discourage publishers and writers from producing material in the future?

Register here.

Panelists

George M. Johnson (Moderator), “All Boys Aren’t Blue” and “We Are Not Broken”

George M. Johnson (they/them) is an award-winning Black nonbinary activist and author of The New York Times–bestselling young adult memoir “All Boys Aren’t Blue” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020) and “We Are Not Broken” (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2021). “All Boys Aren’t Blue” was named a best book of the year by the New York Public Library and the Chicago Public Library, and it has been optioned for television by Gabrielle Union’s I’ll Have Another Productions. Johnson has written for several major outlets, including Teen Vogue, VICE, Entertainment Tonight, NBC, The Root, Buzzfeed, Essence, and TheGrio.

Sarah Kate Ellis (president & CEO of GLAAD), “All Moms” and “Times Two: Two Women in Love and the Happy Family They Made”

Sarah Kate Ellis is President and CEO of GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization. She is a frequent spokesperson, advocate and leader for LGBTQ acceptance across all forms of media including print, television, film, social media, advertising and corporate responsibility. Ellis is author of two books with her wife Kristen Ellis-Henderson, the picture book “All Moms,” and “Times Two: Two Women in Love and the Happy Family They Made,” an autobiography about their simultaneous pregnancies and road to motherhood.

Isabel Galupo, “Maiden & Princess”

Isabel Galupo (she/her) is a queer, part-Filipina, Jewish woman with three moms and a dad (yeah, you read that right). After being an only child for 10 years, Galupo found herself an overnight oldest kid with four younger sisters; this made her really good at changing diapers but also at observing, adapting, and—at times —escaping into genre fiction. It only makes sense, then, that she grew up to be a writer, constantly drawing on her unusual family dynamic and intersecting identities to tell stories at the knife’s edge of painful insight and bizarre heart. Galupo graduated from Ithaca College as a Park Scholar with a B.S. in screenwriting and a minor in sociology, and participated in the Lambda Literary Writer’s Retreat for Emerging LGBT Voices in 2015. She lives in Los Angeles, where she has written on over a dozen shows for Nickelodeon, Warner Bros. Animation, Netflix, Amazon, PBS, Apple TV+, and Mattel for preschoolers and kids ages 6-11. “Maiden & Princess” is her first book.

Daniel Haack, “Prince & Knight” and “Tale of the Shadow King”

Daniel Haack (he/him) is the author of Prince & Knight and its sequel, Prince & Knight: Tale of the Shadow King, and the co-author of Maiden & Princess, all from Little Bee Books. The former was named an ALA Rainbow List Top Ten book, a Goodreads Choice Awards nominee and was named one of the best picture books of 2018 by Amazon, Kirkus Reviews and the Chicago Tribune, as well as one of the Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2019 and one of the Top 100 Most Banned and Challenged Books of the Decade (2010-2019). More recently, he wrote the two-part How Felix Found His Moxie for Wondery’s Little Stories Everywhere podcast. Daniel is also an Emmy Award-winning creative executive for children’s television and holds a B.S. from Ithaca College and an Ed.M. from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education.

Leah Johnson, “You Should See Me In A Crown” and “Rise to the Sun”

Leah Johnson (she/her) is an eternal Midwesterner and author of award-winning books for children and young adults. Her bestselling debut YA novel, “You Should See Me in a Crown,” was a Stonewall Honor Book, the inaugural Reese’s Book Club YA pick, and in 2021, TIME named “You Should See Me in a Crown” one of the 100 Best Young Adult Books of All Time. Johnson’s essays and cultural criticism can be found in Teen Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Cosmopolitan among others. Her debut middle grade, “Ellie Engle Saves Herself” is forthcoming from Disney-Hyperion in 2023.

Harry Woodgate, “Grandad’s Camper” and “Timid”

Harry Woodgate (pronouns: they/them) is an award-winning author and illustrator who has worked with clients including Google, Little Bee Books, Bloomsbury, Andersen Press, The Sunday Times Magazine, National Book Tokens, Harper Collins, Walker Books, The Washington Post and Penguin Random House.

Their books include “Grandad’s Camper,” “Timid,” “Little Glow,” “Shine Like The Stars,” “My First Baking Book” and “The Very Merry Murder Club.”

In 2022, they won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize for Best Illustrated Book, as well as receiving a nomination for the CILIP Yoto Kate Greenaway Award and a Stonewall Book Award Honor from the American Library Association. Their books have also been recognized in other awards including the Polari Prize and Diverse Book Awards.

Woodgate is passionate about writing and illustrating diverse, inclusive stories that inspire children to be inquisitive, creative, kind and proud of what makes them unique.

 

Practical Strategies for Defending Books in Your Library

How would you handle an attempt to censor books in your library? In this program, we’ll use ripped-from-the-headlines scenarios as discussion prompts to provide practical strategies and resources that librarians can use to inform their defense of challenged materials. The conversation will be lead by librarians from a variety of backgrounds: Moni Barrette (President, Graphic Novel & Comics Round Table, American Library Association), Jamie Gregory (Upper School Librarian, Christ Church Episcopal School), Val Nye (Library Director, Santa Fe Community College), and Jack Phoenix (Manager of Collection Development and Technical Services at Cuyahoga Falls Library and Brodart’s Graphic Novel Selector).

Register Here Button: https://ala-events.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_kCdwS9T1TDewjApcczi4fw

About the Panelists

Moni Barrette is a 16-year public librarian who expanded her expertise in libraries, comics, and relationship building through her role at LibraryPass as the Director of Content Management and Publisher Relations, where her interest in teaching grew. As co-founder of the nonprofit Creators Assemble and President of the American Library Association’s Graphic Novel & Comics Round Table, and adjunct lecturer at SDSU, she became dedicated to promoting learning through the use of comics and popular culture. Moni attends comic conventions, hosts industry networking events, and helps librarians and educators implement comics into their learning spaces.

Jamie Gregory is in her 18th year working as a high school educator, having spent her first 8 years as a high school English teacher and ten years as a high school librarian. She has been blogging for the Office for Intellectual Freedom since January 2019 and currently writes censorship articles for School Library Journal. She is the 2022 South Carolina School Librarian of the Year as well as the 2022 recipient of the Intellectual Freedom Round Table’s Eli M. Oboler Award for intellectual freedom writing.

Valerie Nye is the Library Director at Santa Fe Community College and has worked in libraries for over 25 years.  She has edited two books that share stories of librarians confronting intellectual freedom challenges, True Stories of Censorship Battles in America’s Libraries (ALA, 2012) and Intellectual Freedom Stories: From A Shifting Landscape (ALA, 2020).  Working on these books has allowed her to connect with librarians around the world and share stories and information about some of librarianship’s deepest held values, intellectual freedom and social justice.  She currently serves as a Member on the Amigos Library Services board and as Past-President of the New Mexico Consortium of Academic Libraries.  Valerie holds an MLIS from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Jack Phoenix is a ravenous reader with a burning love for pop culture and balloon twisting, He writes about comics, libraries, and comics in libraries, and is the recipient of two master’s degrees, one in Library and Information Science from Kent State University and the other in English from Ohio Dominican University. He now works as a manager for a public library in Greater Cleveland, where he lives with his husband, three dogs, and pet rats.

Free Expression for Young People

The books that are most frequently targeted for censorship are those that capture the attention of younger readers, which leaves many of them confused about the validity of their interests, their personal identities, and their First Amendment rights. This program will examine the censorship of content for young people and their rights from the perspective of authors who have written about or defended intellectual freedom for young people: Jarrett Dapier, librarian and author of the upcoming release Wake Now In The Fire, a graphic novel about the censorship of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis in the Chicago public school system; Ryan Estrada, co-author of Banned Book Club, a graphic novel about an underground banned book club in South Korea; Varian Johnson, author of Playing the Cards You’re Dealt and The Parker Inheritance, as well as outspoken champion for the right to read; and award winning educator and reading advocate Donalyn Miller

Register Here: https://ala-events.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_E1XSLCyTQ9CBKkJ3Cfo3jQ 

About the Panelists

Jarrett Dapier is the author of of the picture books Mr. Watson’s Chickens (Chronicle Books), Jazz For Lunch! (Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum Books), and this fall’s The Most Haunted House In America (Abrams Kids). A young adult librarian with over 12 years of experience working with teens in the Chicagoland area, his stage adaptation of The Sledding Hill by Chris Crutcher, a book about censorship and grief, is published by the American Library Association’s Office For Intellectual Freedom in 2014 and is available for libraries and high schools to produce for free. In 2016, he was awarded the John Phillip Immroth Memorial Award from the Intellectual Freedom Round Table for uncovering, distributing, and disseminating previously suppressed information regarding the 2013 efforts by high-ranking Chicago Public Schools administrators to ban the graphic novel Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. In fall 2023, his YA graphic novel, Wake Now in the Fire, based on the Persepolis incident, will be published by Chronicle Books illustrated by AJ Dungo. He is currently teaching a course on intellectual freedom and censorship at the iSchool at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

Ryan Estrada is the co-author of the Eisner-nominated, Freeman Award-winning graphic novel Banned Book Club. His upcoming books include Occulted, the true story of how banned books helped Amy Rose escape a cult, and the Banned Book Club sequel No Rules Tonight. He has made comics for Popeye, Star Trek, Garfield, and Flash Gordon. He lives in South Korea with his wife Kim Hyun Sook.

Varian Johnson is the author of several novels for children and young adults, including The Parker Inheritance, which won both Coretta Scott King Author Honor and Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor awards; The Great Greene Heist, an ALA Notable Children’s book and Kirkus Reviews Best Book; and the graphic novel Twins, illustrated by Shannon Wright, an NPR Best Book.

Varian was born in Florence, South Carolina, and attended the University of Oklahoma, where he received a BS in Civil Engineering. He later received an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and is honored to now be a member of the faculty. Varian lives outside of Austin, TX with his family.

Donalyn Miller is an award-winning Texas teacher and independent reading advocate. She is the author or coauthor of numerous books and articles about engaging young people with reading, including most recently The Joy of Reading, coauthored with Teri S. Lesesne, and The Commonsense Guide to Your Classroom Library, coauthored with Colby Sharp. She is cofounder of the Nerdy Book Club and founder of #bookaday.

Banned Books Trading Cards Gallery

Visit Chapel Hill Public Library Meeting Room A between September 17th and September 30th during library open hours to see a display of Banned Books Trading Cards 2022 submissions and large format displays of winning entries from past years. Pick up your set of trading cards and participate in an interactive display on the theme, “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.”

Banned Books Week is an annual, national celebration of your freedom to read, held September 18 – 24 this year.

Banned Books Week: Conversation on Censorship

Join Chapel Hill Public Library and Carolina Public Humanities for a conversation about intellectual freedom and the dangers of censorship during Banned Books Week. Topics to be covered by panelists include:

  • Professor Tori Ekstrand from the UNC Hussman School of Journalism will discuss free speech, censorship, and media law.
  • NC Deputy Director Renee Sekel of Red Wine and Blue, a national advocacy network of Democratic suburban parents, will discuss their campaign against book bans.
  • Education representatives from local school districts have been invited to speak about the impact of book challenges.

Banned Books Week is an annual, national celebration of your freedom to read, held September 18 – 24 this year. The theme of this year’s event is “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.”

Celebrating Black Gay Literature Amidst a Wave of Book Bans

Join PEN America Detroit for a Banned Book Week in-person discussion on the anti-Blackness and homophobia inherent in the slate of book bans around the country. This conversation will offer strategies on how to push back against the recent book bans, while also offering a space to celebrate black gay literature in all of its permutations.

Moderated by Amber Ogden, the PEN Detroit Chapter leader, and featuring Aaron Foley, author of Boys Come First, this conversation will reflect on the wave of censorship stifling the freedom to read, and the extraordinary power of marginalized voices.

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Aaron Foley is the senior editor for the PBS NewsHour’s Communities Initiative and previously served as the founding director of the Black Media Initiative at the Center for Community Media at the Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY. Previously, he was a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University, chief storyteller for the City of Detroit, and editor of BLAC Detroit Magazine. He is also an author and veteran freelance journalist, having contributed to This American LifeThe AtlanticColumbia Journalism Review, and more.

Amber Ogden is a freelance writer from Detroit with a background in social work. Amber has dedicated her life’s purpose to the betterment of youth in her community while also writing and marketing for state and local government agencies focused on children and families for most of her career. She started in journalism and soon found her second love working with children in the child welfare system through residential and foster care programs in the State of Michigan. While currently working with families in human services for the Metro Detroit area, she continues to freelance for multiple publications across the country such as Chevy in the D, Model D, Rachel Ray Every Day and BASIC Magazine. She is also involved in building community by working with local non-profits such as It Starts at Home cleaning the same neighborhood where she grew up. She has also moderated a panel discussion for PEN America covering Local Media and Immigrant Justice.


Banned Books and Body Autonomy in Birmingham

Join PEN Birmingham for an intimate conversation centering the issue of restrictive book bans targeting women, queer, trans and intersex people in an era of increasing threats to body autonomy.

In Alabama, sex education is not currently mandated, and schools that do teach sex education must emphasize abstinence. Books that offer perspectives of LGBTQ+ people are routinely banned. Since the Dobbs decision, Alabama has become one of several states that has outlawed abortion with no exception for rape and incest. As the voices and bodies of women, trans folks, and LGBTQ+ people are pushed aside, there aren’t enough resources given young people trying to work through these ideas and life events.

For Banned Book week, PEN Birmingham Chapter co-leader Alina Stefanescu is joined by TKO Society’s Financial Director and Reproductive Justice Director Jennine Bell , University of Alabama Gender Historian Heather Kopelson, and Yellowhammer Fund’s Interim Executive Director Jenice Fountain for an intimate conversation reflecting on the state of body autonomy and censorship amidst change.

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Alina Stefanescu was born in Romania and lives in Birmingham, Alabama. A multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, her first poetry chapbook Objects in Vases (Anchor & Plume Press, 2016) won the 2016 Award for Poetry Book of the Year from ASPS. Her debut fiction collection, Every Mask I Tried On, won the Brighthorse Prize and was published in May 2018. Her writing can be found in diverse journals, including Prairie Schooner, North American Review, FLOCK, Southern Humanities Review, Crab Creek Review, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Virga, Whale Road Review, and others. She serves as Poetry Editor for Pidgeonholes, President of Alabama State Poetry Society, Board Member for the Alabama Writer’s Conclave, Co-Founder of 100,000 Poets for Change Birmingham, and proud board member of Magic City Poetry Festival. Her poetry collection, Defect/or, was a finalist for 2015 Robert Dana Poetry Award. A finalist for the 2019 Kurt Brown AWP Prize, the 2019 Greg Grummer Poetry Prize, the 2019 Frank McCourt Prize, and the 2019 Streetlight Magazine Poetry Contest, Alina won the 2019 River Heron Poetry Prize. She loves to collaborate across mediums and be the poem she wants to read in the world.

Jennine Bell is the Financial Director and Reproductive Justice Director of The Knights & Orchids Society Inc. (TKO Society). She is originally from Miami, Fla. and is currently pursuing her degree in accounting with a focus on organizational leadership at Auburn University in Montgomery, Ala. She identifies as Queer. During her time as financial director, she has raised more than half a million dollars to support TKO efforts. She has also been pivotal to the growth of TKO Society’s partner organization, West Alabama Women’s Clinic, and Queer Med. She is responsible for building community resources for TKO clients and overall organization.

Heather Miyano Kopelson specializes in the history of sexuality and the body; religion, race, and gender in the Atlantic world, slavery in the early Americas, and Native American history. She is an associate professor at the University of Alabama. Her first book, Faithful Bodies: Performing Religion and Race in the Puritan Atlantic was published by New York University Press in 2014. She is currently at work on a second book, Idolatrous Processions: Music, Dance, and Cultural Exchange in the Americas, 1500-1700, and an article, “Locating Diaspora in Eighteenth-Century Bermuda: Disorderly Dancing and the Archive of the Body.”

Jenice Fountain serves as the Yellowhammer Fund’s Interim Executive Director. She is a grassroots organizer and advocate in Birmingham, Alabama dedicated to Reproductive Justice, direct aid and reparations for Black womxn and children. Jenice -a mom herself – is the founder of Margins: Women Helping Black Women, a local community aid organization that addresses the reproductive, financial and material needs of low-income Black mothers and their children. Jenice prides herself on her work through a harm reduction lens and views her work as direct pushback to the stigmatized services that Black people are often subject to as well as a direct pushback to capitalist systems.

Over the last two years, Jenice has brought this experience to build and strengthen Yellowhammer Fund’s Family Justice program as Family Justice Organizer. A fierce advocate for abortion justice, Jenice has not only funded abortions and offered transportation to clinics, but she has also taken a firm role in supporting mothers who have been criminalized for their pregnancy related outcomes.

Jenice is a proven leader in showing her community as well as surrounding areas what true reproductive justice and agency looks like.

Restricted Access: The American History of Book Banning

Censorship and book bans are nothing new in American life. In the 19th century, it was the federal Comstock laws barring the delivery and distribution of “every obscene, lewd, or lascivious” book. Today, books that highlight race, gender, or sexuality are being yanked from public shelves around the country. Join PEN America and the New York Public Library for a conversation about the history of book banning and obscenity laws on Wednesday, September 21 at the Stephen A. Schwarzman building. Ali Velshi will moderate a panel with author Laurie Halse Anderson, and scholars Farah Jasmine Griffin, Whitney Strub, and Amy Werbel. Actor André de Shields, the star of the upcoming revival of Death of a Salesman, will open the evening reading a passage from Toni Morrison.

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Ali Velshi is the host of “Velshi” on MSNBC, He is also a Business Correspondent for NBC News, a columnist for MSNBC, and a weekly economics contributor to NPR’s “Here And Now.”

Velshi has reported extensively from Ukraine and across Central and Eastern Europe during the Russian invasion, and from across America during the Covid-19 pandemic. Velshi was on the ground in Minneapolis during the days-long protests against the killing of George Floyd. He has covered multiple U.S. Presidential elections and major news stories around the globe, including the Syrian refugee crisis from Turkey and Jordan, the Iran Nuclear Deal in Tehran, the Greek debt crisis in Athens, and the funeral of Nelson Mandela in South Africa. Velshi is recognized for his immersive on-the-ground reporting and his interactive discussions with small groups, which form part of his ongoing series, “Velshi Across America.”

Prior to joining MSNBC/NBC News in 2016, he hosted “Ali Velshi On Target,” a nightly prime time show on Al Jazeera America. Previously, Velshi was CNN’s Chief Business Correspondent, anchor of CNN International’s “World Business Today” and the host of CNN’s weekly business show “Your Money.” Velshi also co-hosted CNN’s morning show, “American Morning.”

Nominated for two 2016 Emmy Awards for his reporting on disabled workers and Chicago’s red-light camera scandal, in 2010 Velshi was honored with a National Headliner Award for Business & Consumer Reporting for his special with Christine Romans, “How the Wheels Came Off,” about the near collapse of the American auto industry. Additionally, Velshi and CNN were nominated for a 2010 Emmy for Velshi’s breaking news coverage of the attempted bombing of Northwest Flight 253. Velshi reported broadly on the global financial crisis of 2008.

Born in Nairobi and raised in Toronto, Velshi graduated from Canada’s Queen’s University with a degree in Religion, and was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Laws from his Alma Mater in 2016. Velshi splits his time between New York City and Philadelphia.

Velshi is the author of Gimme My Money Back (Sterling and Ross, 2008) and co-author (with CNN’s Christine Romans) of How to Speak Money (Wiley, 2010), and the upcoming A Field Guide To Democracy (2023), and Open Space, with David Ariosto (Knopf 2024).

Laurie Halse Anderson is a New York Times-bestselling author known for tackling tough subjects with humor and sensitivity. Two of her books, Speak and Chains, were National Book Award finalists. Two more books, The Impossible Knife of Memory and Shout were long-listed for the National Book Awards. Laurie has been nominated for Sweden’s Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award seven times; this is her greatest honor. The American Library Association gave Laurie the Margaret A. Edwards Award for her significant contribution to young adult literature. She has been honored for her battles for intellectual freedom by the National Coalition Against Censorship and the National Council of Teachers of English. She is a member of RAINN’s National Leadership Council and frequently speaks about sexual violence.

Farah Jasmine Griffin is the William B. Ransford Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African American Studies at Columbia University, where she also served as the inaugural Chair of the African American and African Diaspora Studies. Professor Griffin received her B.A. in History & Literature from Harvard and her Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale. She is the author or editor of eight books including Who Set You Flowin?: The African American Migration Narrative (Oxford, 1995), If You Can’t Be Free, Be a Mystery: In Search of Billie Holiday (Free Press, 2001), and Harlem Nocturne: Women Artists and Progressive Politics During World War II (Basic Books, 2013).

Whitney Strub received his doctorate in U.S. history from UCLA, and taught at the University of Miami, California State University-Fullerton, UCLA, and Temple University before joining the Federated Department at Rutgers, where he is associate professor. His first book, Perversion for Profit: The Politics of Pornography and the Rise of the New Right, was published in 2011 by Columbia University Press. His second book, Obscenity Rules: Roth v. United States and the Long Struggle over Sexual Expression (University Press of Kansas, 2013) charts the history of obscenity doctrine in patrolling the boundaries of sexual citizenship from the colonial era through the twenty-first century, but especially through the still-binding 1957 Supreme Court case Roth v. U.S., which established that obscene materials are not protected by the First Amendment. Most recently, he co-edited Porno Chic and the Sex Wars: American Sexual Representation in the 1970s (University of Massachusetts Press, 2016), with Carolyn Bronstein.

Amy Werbel is a Professor and Acting Chair in the Art History and Museum Professions at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She is the author of numerous works on the subject of American visual culture and sexuality, including Lust on Trial: Censorship and the Rise of American Obscenity in the Age of Anthony Comstock (Columbia University Press, 2018), winner of the 2019 Peter C. Rollins Book Prize of the Northeast Popular and American Culture Association. Werbel’s previous publications include Thomas Eakins: Art, Medicine, and Sexuality in Nineteenth-Century Philadelphia (Yale University Press, 2007). Dr. Werbel is the recipient of fellowships and scholarships from numerous institutions, including the UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement, Frick Center for the History of Collecting, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and Metropolitan Museum of Art. She served as a Fulbright Scholar in the United Kingdom (2019-2020), and in China (2011-2012). She was awarded the 2018-2019 State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities.

In a career spanning more than half a century, André De Shields has acquired a number of sobriquets, among them, “Broadway Diety,” “Professional Charmer,” and “Papa Dré.” De Shields was the triple crown winner of the 2019 awards season, garnering Tony, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk and Grammy Awards for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his universally praised role as Hermes, Messenger to the Gods, in Hadestown. The Actors’ Equity Foundation followed suit with the Richard Seff Award, honoring veteran stage actors’ best supporting performances of the year.

De Shields has also distinguished himself as a director, philanthropist and educator.  His defining theatrical performances include roles in the original Broadway productions of The Full Monty (Tony Award Nomination), Play On! (Tony Award nomination), Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Emmy Award), and the titular role in The Wiz. De Shields is experiencing growing pains as he prepares for his next adventure as Actor/Activist, eradicating the inauthentic while elevating the inexplicable. Unbuntu!

Banned Book Week Social Hour in Durham, North Carolina

For Banned Book Week 2022, PEN Piedmont North Carolina, in partnership with the North Carolina Writers Network, will be hosting a free speech “social cocktail hour” with drinks and appetizers. This event will provide an opportunity for free speech advocates, librarians, authors, and the general public to share their thoughts and possible advocacy tools regarding the recent wave of book bans. We will be joined by author Alicia D Williams, journalist and author Lewis Raven Wallace, and Wake County librarian Kristel Behrend. Join us as we reflect, organize, and prepare to defend the freedom to read.

REGISTER HERE

Alicia D. Williams is the author of Genesis Begins Again, which received the Newbery and Kirkus Prize honors, was a William C. Morris prize finalist, and won the Coretta Scott King–John Steptoe Award for New Talent. Alicia D also debuted a picture book biography, Jump at the Sun: The True Life Tale of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston. And, followed up with Shirley Chisholm Dared: The Story of the First Black Woman in Congress. Alicia shares a passion for storytelling which stems from conducting school residencies as a Master Teaching Artist of arts-integration. Alicia D infuses her love for drama, movement, and storytelling to inspire students to write. She resides in Charlotte, NC.

Lewis Raven Wallace is a journalist based in Durham, North Carolina, the author and creator of The View from Somewhere book and podcast, and a co-founder of Press On, a southern movement journalism collective. He’s currently a Ford Global Fellow, and a movement journalism fellow with Interrupting Criminalization. He is white and transgender, and was born and raised in the Midwest with deep roots in the South.

Kristel Behrend is a high school librarian with over 20 years experience in education. She began her career as a professional opera singer and elementary music teacher in Ohio. Ten years ago, Ms. Behrend shifted her focus and became a librarian after being mentored by an amazing elementary school librarian who fostered a love of literacy and educational technology. She has been at Knightdale High School for seven years where she considers herself an advocate for both staff and students; she has been vocal about students’ right to read what they want and see themselves in texts with authentic teen experiences. Her students know that the Knightdale Learning Commons is a safe space for all students to be their true selves without judgment.

Deonna Kelli Sayed is a writer-performer based in Greensboro, North Carolina. Deonna’s essays and short stories are included in Love, Inshallah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim WomenFaithfully Feminist: Jewish, Christian and Muslim Feminists on Why We Stay; and Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction From a Small Planet, Volume III. She is the author of Paranormal Obsession: America’s Fascination with Ghosts & Hauntings, Spooks & Spirits, and a TEDx speaker.

Her personal essays appear online, including at The Dirty Spoon, and Jennifer Pastiloff’s The Manifest-Station. Deonna is an award-winning multimedia journalist for her podcast series at Yes!Weekly, an independent newspaper, featuring LGBTQ issues in North Carolina.

Originally from rural North Florida, Deonna is a globally connected storyteller engaged in interfaith work modeled on dialogue across difference. She is the Membership Coordinator for the North Carolina Writers’ Network, and Festival Coordinator for Greensboro Bound, 2018-2019. She is active in her local arts community, and served as staff for the 2019 North Carolina Folk Festival. Learn more about Deonna here, and keep up with her and local PEN America events on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Meet the Author: Ryan Estrada

The author of the graphic memoirs Banned Book Club, Occulted and No Rules Tonight, Ryan Estrada has worked with many people who changed their lives, and the world, by reading banned books. Join the artist/author for a stimulating discussion on why books are banned and what we gain from reading them.

Please register. You will be emailed a link no later than one hour before the program start time. If you do not see an email, check your Junk or Spam folder.

Reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities is available by request. Email access@kcls.org at least seven days before the event. Automated closed captioning is always available for online events.

Little Free Library Unbound – Chapter 20: Banned and Challenged Books

Little Free Library Unbound is a digital event series connecting stewards, patrons, supporters, authors, publishers, the Little Free Library organization staff, and our national board via monthly webinars on book-related topics. Attendees will have the opportunity to submit questions for our guest panelists, and our moderator will lead a discussion alongside the Q&A.

Chapter 20

Our 20th chapter of Unbound is a conversation on banned and challenged books. We’ll be joined by Little Free Library stewards Brandi McPherson, Mai Le, and Katie Cohen and Krysta Petrie to talk about banned and challenged books, the Read in Color program, and the importance of access to books about people from all backgrounds.

PORTUGAL. THE MAN, Live with Banned Books Week & NCAC!

Join the Banned Books Week Coalition and the National Coalition Against Censorship at 6:00 p.m. EDT, September 29, for an exclusive Facebook Live event with Grammy Award-winning musicians and free expression heroes Portugal. The Man! The event celebrates Banned Books Week, which takes place September 23 – October 3, 2020, and will broadcast live on the NCAC Facebook page

In early 2020, Portugal. The Man joined the protest when the Matanuska-Susitna (Mat-Su) Borough School Board, which oversees schools in the band’s hometown of Wasilla, Alaska, voted to remove five classic novels — I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien — from the 11th grade reading list. Through their charitable non-profit, PTM Foundation, Portugal. The Man helped provide thousands of copies of the banned books to students in the district.

During this hourlong livestream, we’ll talk with Portugal. The Man about why they took action, the role of communities in fighting censorship, and the importance of access to information. We’ll close with a short Q&A. The event will be moderated by Nora Pelizzari (Director of Communications, NCAC) and Betsy Gomez (Coordinator, Banned Books Week Coalition).

How will this work?

  1. Make sure you like the National Coalition Against Censorship on Facebook.
  2. At 6:00 p.m. EDT on September 29, go to Facebook and look at the News Feed.
  3. Click Watch in the Navigation Panel on the left. (Click See More if you don’t see Watch in the list.)
  4. After clicking Watch, click Live in the Navigation Panel on the left.

You can also go directly to facebook.com/live to access Facebook livestreams or the video section of NCAC’s Facebook page to access the event.

About PORTUGAL. THE MAN

Portugal. The Man took 2017 by the horns after a considerably long gap between records. They spent years working on an album called Gloomin + Doomin before later developing what would become known as their latest studio album WOODSTOCK. Fate struck lead singer John Gourley twice. First, John got some parental tough love from his old man. “What’s taking so long to finish the album?” John’s dad asked. “Isn’t that what bands do? Write songs and then put them out?” The whole thing got John thinking about why the band seemed to be stuck on a musical elliptical machine from hell and more importantly, about how to get off of it. Second, John found his dad’s ticket stub from the original 1969 Woodstock music festival, which ultimately knocked something loose in his head. He realized that, in the same tradition of bands from that era, Portugal. The Man needed to speak out about the world crumbling around them.

With these two ideas converging, the band made a seemingly bat-shit-crazy decision: they took all of the work they had done for the three years prior and threw it out. The band went back to the studio — working with John Hill, Danger Mouse and longtime collaborator Casey Bates. In this new-found creative territory, the album that became WOODSTOCK rolled out naturally from there. Fast forward to present day and it was impossible to escape the album’s first single, “Feel It Still,” which dominated the charts and radio airwaves in 2017. The 4X Platinum Certified hit reigned at #1 at nearly all radio formats, including Top 40, as well as Alternative, where the song held the chart’s top spot for a mind-blowing 20 weeks, breaking the record for most weeks at #1. Yes, you read that right. Five guys from Wasilla, Alaska, who have played nearly 1,500 shows in their career, broke Alternative radio records and had a #1 song at Pop radio. Billboard Magazine even went as far as to call the song “the unexpected rock crossover hit of 2017,” while Rolling Stone listed it as “one of the best songs of 2017.” AND THEN…the band kicked off 2018 by winning a GRAMMY Award for “Feel It Still.”

About the PTM Foundation

PTM Foundation is focused on building community resilience, empathy, and awareness through music, stories, art, education and connectivity. They aim to convene and organize partnerships and projects informed by community need, then mobilize Portugal. The Man’s listeners and supporters around that shared vision.

While their advocacy, philanthropy, and community engagement work is primarily centered around universal issues related to human rights, community health, and the environment, this organization puts a specific focus on highlighting the stories of Indigenous Peoples, and they are committed to helping bring these sacred voices — often the most informed, yet silenced among us — to the forefront.

About the National Coalition Against Censorship

The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) promotes freedom of thought, inquiry, and expression and opposes censorship in all its forms. Since 1974, NCAC has engaged in direct advocacy, education, research and analysis to support the principles of the First Amendment. A coalition of over 50 national non-profits, NCAC’s alliance includes literary, artistic, education, and civil liberties groups. NCAC is national in scope, but often local in their approach, engaging with a nationwide network of advocates and supporting local activism. NCAC works with community members to resolve censorship controversies without the need for litigation.

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; 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.

PEN America Examines Book Bans in U.S. Prisons

In a new policy paper, the literary and human rights organization PEN America showcases the impact of the nation’s most pernicious book ban: the system of restrictions that exist across U.S. prisons, jails, and other incarceration settings. Some 2.2 million people are currently incarcerated across the country.  Against that backdrop, Literature Locked Up: How Prison Book Restriction Policies Constitute the Nation’s Largest Book Ban details the types of book bans prisoners face, the arbitrariness with which they are implemented, and the lack of transparency and oversight that leads to bans on titles from Nobel Prize winners and leading historical figures. The publication of this paper comes amid PEN America’s Literature Locked Up initiative for Banned Books Week 2019.

“This year, as the country focuses on unfair and arbitrary book bans nationwide, we wanted to focus on the pernicious ban on books in the nation’s prisons,” said James Tager, author of the report and PEN America’s deputy director of free expression policy and research. “Literature offers a lifeline for incarcerated people in the midst of a dehumanizing system. We should be promoting access to literature in our prisons. Instead, our policies today are arbitrary, irrational, and at times needlessly cruel. We urgently need a course correction that upholds the right to read behind bars.”

Among the paper’s highlights:

  • PEN America reports that literature on race and civil rights is disproportionately subject to bans, often on the grounds that such texts threaten to disrupt a prison’s social order. Often entire categories of books are banned, and these often reflect discriminatory approaches to regulation.
  • PEN America also found that review mechanisms fail to offer meaningful oversight over these bans. While the U.S. Supreme Court has established that prisons must provide some form of administrative appeal process, there is no requirement that such reviewers are independent of the prison system, nor are there any criteria regarding reviewers’ qualifications.
  • PEN America also explores how in addition to content-specific bans, prison systems have enacted wholesale restrictions on book deliveries, such as requiring purchases come only through “secure vendors,” as well as shutdowns on book donations and deliveries writ large. PEN America finds that these “content-neutral bans” have the effect of banning potentially thousands of titles by significantly limiting the range of books available to people who are incarcerated.

While no comprehensive list exists of all books banned in jails and prisons within the U.S., tens of thousands of titles are banned outright based on outmoded or misguided attempts to regulate behavior. The carceral system in Texas, for example, has reportedly banned more than 10,000 titles, including Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses and Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. But perhaps more insidious, the paper finds that bans are often ad hoc, purely at the discretion of mailroom employees or corrections officers who happen to be on duty, constituting a wider and more arbitrary landscape of restrictions that is often invisible to the public.

“Because these book bans are rarely reviewable and seldom overturned voluntarily, the only recourse incarcerated people have is public outrage,” said PEN America’s Tager. “Every time book bans are overturned, it’s because people on the inside and advocates on the outside have urged prison systems to make changes. But the system is opaque and banned book lists are unavailable. We can’t rely on public outrage alone to ensure that the rights of people in prison aren’t routinely violated. That practice has to end.”

PEN America recommends that prison systems follow the American Library Association’s Prisoners’ Right to Read – Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights principles as a guide. PEN America also urges state and federal officials to implement periodic review of book restriction policies; develop clear and non-discriminatory policies governing such restrictions; encourage prison authorities to consider the educational, literary, and rehabilitative merit of texts; make any banned book list available and accessible; and most crucially, enact meaningful review policies.

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. PEN America is a member of the Banned Books Week Coalition.

PEN is hosting a Literature Locked Up event today:

BANNED BOOKS WEEK 2019: LITERATURE LOCKED UP BANNED BOOK READING AND PUBLIC DISCUSSION

Scuppernong Books, Greensboro, NC • 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm EDT

Join Scuppernong Books on Tuesday, September 24 to celebrate banned and challenged books from around the world. In honor of Banned Books Week 2019, the event will feature readings of banned books and involve the Scuppernong’s Young Adult Book Club, as well as the general public, with an educational component around PEN America’s Literature Locked Up campaign and provide an opportunity for participants to sign a petition calling for the right to read in American prisons. Find out more »