Banned Books Week, an annual event celebrating the freedom to read, is taking place this week, September 21 – 27, 2014. During Banned Books Week, librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, authors, teachers and readers work together to draw attention to the freedom to seek and express ideas. You can follow this national conversation by liking the Banned Books Week page on Facebook, following the #bannedbooksweek hashtag on Twitter, and watching the celebrity Virtual Read-Out videos on the Banned Books Week YouTube Channel.
In 2013, the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) logged 307 book challenges. You can find specific details about some of those challenges in this document: 2013-2014 Books Challenged or Banned. Last year, challenges were made against classics such as Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl and Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man, as well as contemporary bestsellers such as John Green’s Looking for Alaska. In one instance, a history textbook was challenged in a Florida county, and protesters went so far as to recommend that student volunteers tear a chapter out of the textbook.
Statistics show that most book challenges occur in public libraries, school libraries and classrooms. The Office for Intellectual Freedom estimates that up to 85 percent of actual challenges to library materials receive no media attention and remain unreported. Visit the ALA’s Frequently Challenged Books webpage to view the top 10 challenged books by year, banned and challenged classics, most frequently challenged authors and more. Please take a moment this week to reflect upon your freedom to read.