From September 24 through October 1, the Bentley Library joins libraries around the country in observing Banned Books Week. During Banned Books Week, we celebrate the freedom to read by bringing attention to efforts to curtail that freedom. From classics to children’s books to nonfiction, hundreds of books are challenged in the US each year for a host of reasons, with the most frequent from 1990 to 2010 being sexually explicit content, offensive language, and violence. Real numbers are much higher since so many challenges are never reported to the American Library Association, which has been tracking challenges since 1990. Most challenges take place in schools, school libraries, and public libraries, but academic libraries are not immune to questions about controversial materials, and academic libraries’ dedication to research and free inquiry means that we have a particularly strong obligation to protect access to ideas and information of all kinds.
Stop by the library to view our display of banned and challenged books. You’ll find a sampling of classic and contemporary titles that have been at the center of controversy at schools and libraries in the United States and abroad, along with a description of why each title was challenged.
You can celebrate Banned Books Week in many ways:
- Browse the American Library Association’s lists of frequently challenged books and pick a banned book to read this week. How many of the frequently challenged titles have you already read?
- Look at a map of recent book challenges and see what’s been challenged or banned in your area.
- Take part in the Banned Books Week Virtual Readout by uploading a video of yourself reading a banned book to the Virtual Readout YouTube channel.
- Like the Banned Books Week page on Facebook or follow the #bannedbooksweek hashtag on Twitter to keep up with the conversation this week and learn how others are celebrating the freedom to read.
- Finally, tell somebody else about Banned Books Week, and talk about why you read banned books this week and throughout the year.