Banned Books Week Highlights Freedom to Read
Graphic Novels Highlighted
It may surprise some to find out there are hundreds of reported attempts to ban books every year in the United States. It may be even more astounding to hear that since 1990, the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) has received reports of more than 18,000 attempts to remove materials in schools and libraries for content deemed by some as inappropriate, controversial or even dangerous.
Banned Books Week, September 21-27, 2014, reminds Americans about the importance of preventing censorship and ensuring everyone’s freedom to read any book they choose. According to ALA’s OIF, for every banned book reported, there are many more that are not.
This year’s Banned Books Week is spotlighting graphic novels because, despite their literary merit and popularity as a format, they are often subject to censorship. Graphic novels continually show up on the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom’s Top 10 List of Most Frequently Challenged Books. The most current list for 2013 includes two graphic novels: Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants series at the top spot and Jeff Smith’s series Bone at #10.
Banned Books Week has been celebrating the freedom to read for 32 years. Libraries, schools and bookstores across the country will commemorate Banned Books Week by hosting special events and exhibits on the power of words and the harms of censorship.
Western MA and Online Events
The Storrs Library and the Hatch Library at Bay Path University are hosting a Read Out event to celebrate Banned Books Week on Tuesday, September 23 at 6pm in Longmeadow, MA. Participants are invited to pick a favorite banned or challenged book and come read it aloud for up to five minutes at the library. Following the readings, the library will screen The Outsiders (1983; PG-13), based on the controversial coming-of-age novel of the same name by S.E. Hinton.
On Wednesday, September 24, SAGE and ALA’s OIF will present a free webinar discussing efforts to un-ban books by visiting activists and speakers in London, Charleston, S.C., Houston and California. For the fourth year the public is invited to read from their favorite banned books by participating in the popular Banned Books Week Virtual Read-Out on YouTube. Past participants have included highly acclaimed and/or frequently challenged authors such as Judy Blume, Chris Crutcher, Whoopi Goldberg, Lauren Myracle and many more. This year’s new videos will feature Ana Castillo, Stan Lee and Lois Lowry, among others.
Librarian and information policy lawyer Laura Quilter will present, “From ‘Banned in Boston’ to Ethnic Studies in Arizona – Intellectual Freedom in America Today,” at the Jones Library as part of Banned Books Week on Thursday, September 25 at 7pm in Amherst, MA. Quilter’s talk focuses on the law and politics of banning books, from historic banned books to the modern-day removal of identity studies materials in Arizona and LGBT-themed children’s books in public schools and libraries.
Banned Websites Awareness Day
In addition to book challenges, online resources, including legitimate educational websites and academically useful social networking tools, are being overly blocked and filtered in school libraries. To help raise awareness, the American Association of School Libraries (AASL), a division of the ALA, has designated one day during Banned Books Week as Banned Websites Awareness Day, Wednesday, September 24. During Banned Websites Awareness Day, the AASL is asking school librarians and other educators to promote an awareness of how excessive filtering affects student achievement.
ABOUT BANNED BOOKS WEEK
Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, American Library Association, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of American Publishers; Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Freedom to Read Foundation, National Association of College Stores, National Coalition Against Censorship, National Council of Teachers of English, PEN American Center, People For the American Way and Project Censored. It is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.
(Source: American Library Association)