This October, we mark a week that holds special significance for bibliophiles and defenders of freedom alike. From October 1 - 7, we celebrate Banned Books Week, an annual event that champions the right to read books that have been challenged and banned in schools and libraries across the nation. This year's theme, "Let Freedom Read," reminds us of the power of literature to challenge norms, spark conversations and expand our horizons.
Banned Books Week is more than just a celebration of our right to read; it's a reminder of the ever-present challenges that literature faces. Throughout history and even today, books have been challenged and banned for a variety of reasons, ranging from concerns about their content to ideological disagreements. This week serves as an opportunity to shine a spotlight on these issues and raise awareness about the importance of free expression and diverse voices.
According to PEN America's Index of School Book Bans, the 2022-2023 school year witnessed over 1,400 instances of individual books being banned, affecting nearly 900 unique titles. These bans are often rooted in concerns about violence and physical abuse depicted in the books, the inclusion of characters of color and themes related to race and racism, LGBTQ+ characters or themes and portrayals of sexual experiences between characters.
Banned books have the potential to provide readers with new perspectives, challenge conventional wisdom and provoke thoughtful discussions. They can help us navigate complex issues related to identity, tolerance and freedom. When we read a banned book, we engage with ideas that might be uncomfortable or controversial.
AACPL believes in our customers' freedom and responsibility to choose library materials based on their needs, individual tastes, or family values. Libraries continue to challenge censorship in favor of providing information and enlightenment. AACPL's selection considerations align with the American Library Association's principles, including the "Library Bill of Rights," the "Freedom to Read Statement" and the "Freedom to View Statement."
This Banned Books Week, we challenge you to take a stand for intellectual freedom and the right to read. Visit your local library and pick up a book that has been targeted for censorship. Form your own opinion about its content and message. Engage in discussions with friends, family or fellow readers to explore different perspectives. By doing so, you'll be exercising your freedom to read and contribute to the ongoing conversation about the importance of diverse voices and ideas in our society.
Additionally, we are bringing back out our "Read Banned Books" glassware, available as a complementary gift to claim October 2 - 7 with a minimum $10 donation at your local library branch.
Just know that these pint glasses are limited supply with limited availability, so get them early! Feel free to call your library branch to check for supply availability during Banned Books Week.
All donations will be contributing to our Foundation which supports the library services we offer across all 16 branches. We thank you in advance for supporting the library and everyone's right to read!
Don't forget to check out AACPL's TikTok for more Banned Books videos.
Published September 29, 2023