Banned Books Week 2022: Better (or Worse?) Than Ever!

Banned Books Week (September 18 - 24, 2022) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. It 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.

The American Library Association's Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF) tracked 729 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services, affecting 1,597 books, in 2021. OIF has documented 681 challenges to books through the first eight months of 2022, involving 1,651 different titles. This article from PEN America clearly outlines the type of books being targeted, and the populations that are most affected by these bans. But as The Atlantic reported earlier this month, "the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom has a telling statistic: It estimates that a staggering 82 to 97 percent of book challenges go unreported on. That means these books, the overwhelming majority, don’t even make it beyond the school-board minutes and into the local paper. And, as it turns out, this question of how much attention a book gets—either because it’s already well known, like The Bluest Eye, or because the banning itself generates big news—is a crucial factor. It makes all the difference in whether censorship helps or hinders a book’s chances of landing in a reader’s hands." If you're interested in knowing more about trends in book banning, censorship and libraries, check out the ALA-OIF weekly blog post which rounds up news from around the country, and internationally.

Visit your library, look for a banned book display or consult this list, and check out a banned book today. Exercise your freedom to read, or not - not just this week, but all year round! Let us know what title you've chosen, and tell us why and how it is important to you.

Written by Dodie on September 20, 2022

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