Banned Books Week is an annual celebration of your freedom to read. This year Banned Books Week took place from September 22 – September 29th and the theme was “Banning Books Silences Stories”. We celebrate Banned Books Week to draw attention to efforts in the United States to remove books from or restrict access to books in libraries and schools. The more light we shine on censorship attempts, the less likely they are to succeed.
The American Library Association Office of Intellectual Freedom tracks challenges and keeps lists of banned and challenged books. Their Frequently Challenged Books website includes Top Ten challenged book lists since 2001.
Books have been banned or challenged for:
- dealing with suicide
- having LGBT characters
- dealing with gender identity
- including racist language
- perceived as promoting a religion
- depicting a religion in an objectionable fashion
Books have also been banned or challenged for including troubling content that draws attention to problems in our society. In 2017, the classic Pulitzer Prize winning novel To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee was challenged and pulled from a school district because of racist language and violence.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, published in 2017, has already won several awards but also faced several challenges, citing violence, drug use, and offensive language. A police union challenged it’s inclusion in a summer reading list for promoting distrust of the police.
As an adult, you have the freedom to choose what you want to read. Parents can make the same choices for their own children, or help their children make these choices for themselves. Banning books takes away other people’s choices.
When you find a book that contains content you object to, you are free to decide whether or not to read it. Taking that book off the shelf of your local library or removing it from a school takes that freedom away from other people.
What banned or challenged books have you read?