Every October, educators and others in literature and writing come together to support freedom of speech and the widespread access to education, with Banned Books Week. This campaign was started by the American Library Association and Amnesty International, and it’s designed to draw attention to books that are frequently banned and why, and promote access to controversial perspectives.
Banned Books Week was launched in response to an upsurge of books being banned in 1982, by a library activist named Judith Krug. During this time, many libraries, educators, and bookstores draw attention to frequently banned books via displays and special shelving, to encourage folks to pick up these apparently controversial titles. Below are the top ten most banned and challenged books of 2010-19, taken from the American Library Association's list of the top 100 banned books from the same period.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Captain Underpants (series) by Dav Pilkey
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Looking for Alaska by John Green
George by Alex Gino
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Drama by Raina Telgmeier
Fifty Shades of Gray by E.L. James
Internet Girls (series) by Lauren Myracle
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Some other often-banned books that didn’t make the top ten last decade include the Harry Potter series, the Hunger Games trilogy, To Kill A Mockingbird, and The Glass Castle.
Celebrating banned books week can be as simple as picking up a book you haven’t yet read (or an old favorite!) from one of the many lists of frequently banned books, and taking the time to read it. Maple Grove Books, located in The Collective Retail & Artisan Shops in downtown Williamson also has a display dedicated to Banned Books Week.
If you have a child in your life, perhaps consider guiding them to one of the kid-friendly options from the lists, and talk about what book banning is, and why it happens. (Obviously, if you aren’t a parent or guardian, it’s a good idea to get parental permission before doing so.)
The Banned Books Week website has some great ideas for how to celebrate Banned Books Week. Reaching out to a librarian or educator to share your concerns about book banning and its negative effects is a good idea, and if you’re speaking to someone on the same page– ha!-- as you, it can be a good way to share ideas for advocacy and protecting the right to read.
Banned Books Week 2023 is the first week of October, from the 1st to the 7th, and it all ends with Let Freedom Read day on Oct/7, when the folks advocating with Banned Books Week are asking folks to come together and advocate Even if it’s just as simple as picking up an old favorite, we here at Williamson Forward hope you have a good and educational Banned Books Week!
Photo taken at Maple Grove Books