Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read

While we don’t have much in the way of leisure reading titles, we thought we might highlight a yearly recurring event within the library community.

Sometimes, a book may appear in a library collection, or become a part of a school curriculum, that the community may not agree with for one reason or another. Often, steps are taken to attempt to remove this title from the collection.BBW13_300x250

The American Library Association (ALA) promotes the idea that information should be free and uncensored, as well as made available to those that wish to access it, even if the subjects or topics are considered difficult, unorthodox, or unpopular. As such, once a year, the ALA holds an event celebrating this idea. This year’s events will take place from September 22nd through the 28th.


From the American Library Association webpage:

“Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.”

Often, books are challenged or banned by communities with the best intentions – to protect others, mostly children, from difficult ideas and information. ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom receives reports from libraries, schools, and the media on attempts to ban books in communities across the country, but it does not actually place bans on books. Instead, ALA works to ensure free access to information by compiling these reports into lists to inform the public about what is going on.

Here’s a list of the Top 10 Most Frequently Banned/Challenged books from 2000-2009!

1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
2. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
4. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
5. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
7. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
8. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
9. ttyl; ttfn; l8r g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

You can view the full list of 100 here. The website also has Top 10 lists broken down by year, as well as the reasons behind why the books were challenged or banned.

Some libraries might be participating in the events ALA has planned. This year, sponsors will be hosting a “Banned Books Virtual Read-Out”, engaging in a party on Twitter, and hosting Google+ Hangouts with banned authors. Check with your local public library to see if they are planning to participate!