It’s that time again for Banned Book Week at libraries all over the country. Libraries take this opportunity to celebrate the freedom to read and highlight the importance of the First Amendment. The Week shines a light on the dangers of censorship and if not for the work of librarians, teachers, and libraries, some books, often classics, may not be available to read. One example is John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men challenged in one case because it was too depressing.
There are many different reasons a book may be considered for banning. The magic in a fantasy novel can be construed as anti-religious, or the language in a novel can be considered too mature for younger audiences. Libraries and schools have policies and procedures to follow when a book is challenged. Books can frequently be challenged, especially in schools, however only about 10% of books that are challenged are actually banned. (15 Banned Books blog) As can be imagined, banned books intrigue audiences and tempt readers to check out. Be sure to check out the Banned Book Display at your local library. Headquarters Branch will be sponsoring a Banned Books Film Fest on Thursday, Sep. 27, 12 - 8 p.m. in the Teen Room and Newberry Library will host a Reader's Theater: Banned Books also on Thursday, Sep. 27 from 6-7 p.m. in their Meeting Room.
This year American Library Association is hosting a Dear Banned Author Letter Writing Campaign. Sposored by the ALA office of Intellectual Freedom, the goal of the program is to raise awareness of books that are threatened with censorship but also encourage thoughtful discussions about the power of words and how important it is to have access to a variety of viewpoints in libraries. Readers can write or Tweett their favorite banned or challenged author by sharing what their books meant to them. A list of authors' addresses or Twitter Handles can be found here. More information is available at this link.
Each year the American Library Association publishes a list of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books and a video clip of the 2017 list is below.