Banned Books Week is taking place this year from September 18 through September 24, 2022. This year marks a 40-year anniversary since the American Library Association, booksellers, authors, publishers, librarians, readers, teachers, and all others who prize freedom of expression first made a commitment to defend against censorship. The theme for this year is “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.” The international coalition of organizations that is committed to this work is an example of books uniting people. Another example is found among the popular works we share with one another which often provide a common language with which to talk about and understand the world we live in.
For many people, books offer a means to engage with ideas, perspectives, and stories external--yet complementary--to their own. However, those who wish to censor or ban certain books seek to limit those ideas, beliefs, stories, and perspectives to only those they happen to already agree with. This hurts the free and open exchange of ideas. It also denies marginalized communities the opportunities to accurately represent themselves whenever a work that represents them is met with censorship.
Banned Books Week serves as a time to celebrate intellectual freedom, to promote the freedom to read, and to bring awareness to the threat of censorship. Intellectual freedom refers to the right of every individual to seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. Similarly, the freedom to read ensures that works with unpopular and even controversial opinions or ideas remain accessible to whoever wishes to read them. These concepts are related to one another and serve as a foundation for what Banned Books Week encompasses.
Banned Books Week brings awareness to issues surrounding censorship by reporting the number of book challenges that occur on a given year while simultaneously promoting the freedom the read. SCCLD offers a variety of useful resources that provide more information about this and other related topics. There are resources available in-person at your local library as well as online resources that can be accessed from home using your free library card. Please celebrate the freedom to read this year by flipping through a book of your choice. Maybe you would like to read a challenged book yourself? As always, we are happy to help you discover your new favorite book. Just contact us through your preferred method to start the process!
The books listed here are the 10 most challenged books of 2021 according to the ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom.