Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to read and spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. For 40 years, the annual event has brought together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular. The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted for removal or restriction in libraries and schools. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.
The theme for Banned Books Week 2022 is "Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us." Sharing stories important to us means sharing a part of ourselves. Books reach across boundaries and build connections between readers. Censorship, on the other hand, creates barriers. Banned Books Week is both a reminder of the unifying power of stories and the divisiveness of censorship, and a call to action for readers across the country to push back against censorship attempts in their communities.
About Book Bans & Challenges
Books are still being banned and challenged today. A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials.
While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, challenged books remain available. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.
Unite Against Book Bans is a national initiative to empower readers everywhere to stand together in the fight against censorship. If you are looking for ways you can fight censorship, promote the freedom to read, and support intellectual freedom, this is a great place to start. Their freely available Action Toolkit is filled with phenomenal resources like talking points, statistics, social media tools, and grassroots organizing tips. You can also participate in initiatives like the Dear Banned Author Letter-Writing Campaign or the Stand for the Banned Read-Out! More information about these exciting programs is available at the links provided.
Another great way to take action is by visiting your local library branch and checking out a banned book to read!
Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2021
The American Library Association tracked 729 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services in 2021. Of the 1,597 individual books that were challenged or banned in 2021, here are the top 10 most challenged along with the reasons cited for censorship.
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, the third title down on the list, and We Are Not Broken (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2021). They are also the Honorary Chair for Banned Books Week 2022!
When interviewed about their nomination, Johnson replied, "Being the honorary chair for Banned Books Week is important to me because I know what it is like to grow up and not have stories about my own lived experience, nor the truth outside of an ahistorical context...This is a fight for the truth that has always existed even if it rarely gets told. When the youth are empowered with stories about the experiences of others, they become adults who understand the necessity for equity and equality and have the tools to build a world the likes of which we have never seen.”