Banned Books Week is one of my favorite celebrations of the year—an important reminder that we shouldn't take our freedom to read for granted. This year marks the 30th celebration of the week.
According to the American Library Association, "Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community . . . in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular."
Check out this list to see the "most frequently challenged authors of the 21st century." It's fascinating to look at these graphs detailing the specifics of challenged books. For example, from the years 1990-2010, the most number of challenges were in 1995. During that time frame the most common reason for challenges was "sexually explicit content," followed by "offensive language." Most challenges were by parents.
One of my favorite features of my local library growing up (CALS, represent!) was the library-distributed bookmark listing names of banned books. Of course, the fact that the books had been banned at one point only increased my interest in reading these subversive titles. And I appreciated that I could get them for free at the library.
Here's another thought for you to consider during Banned Books Week. Reading is educational and fun, and it can be hard to understand why anybody would want to limit our access to good books. But as Barbara Kingsolver says, fiction is political. Here's an explanation in her own words, which I love:
Fiction cultivates empathy for a theoretical stranger by putting you inside his head, allowing you to experience life from his point of view. It can broaden your view of gender, ethnicity, place and time, power and vulnerability, things that influence social interaction. What could be more political than that?
. . . and that's why it's so important for "controversial" books to remain available to all readers. The ALA has resources for how you can be an advocate for the libraries that provide the books you love to read. Visit the Legislative Action Center for more information.
To enter to win 30 banned books (in eBook form), visit Open Road Media's Banned Books Week website. Also, enjoy this video of authors talking about censured books:
Why do you think it's important to celebrate Banned Books Week?