Banned Books Week, promoted by the American Library Association, is the annual celebration of our freedom to read. Started in 1982, this week unites booksellers, librarians, readers, journalists, publishers, teachers, and community that share and support the freedom to express ideas, whether they are unconventional or unpopular. The focus of the week is on materials that have been threatened or removed from places where diverse ideas and viewpoints should be accepted, such as schools and libraries.
This year the emphasis is on the importance of the First Amendment which protects our right to read. This site provides lists of books that were challenged, including the 2016 list. A challenge against reading material or an author is defined as an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon objections raised by a person or group. A ban on such materials is the actual removal of those materials. Some reasons for banning books are racial themes, alternative lifestyles, profanity, sex, and violence. Parents raise the most objections compared to any other group. There was an increase of 17% of censorship complaints for 2016. This number is recorded by the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.
The American Library Association website provides notable First Amendment court cases, including historic cases, freedom of expression in schools, and freedom of the press as part of the information for Banned Books week. A few of the classic challenged books that appear on the banned book list that we have in our library include:
- The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck PS3537.T3234 G8 2014
- To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee PS3562.E353 T6 1999
- The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding PR6013.O35 L6 2013
- Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck PS3537.T3234 O2 1993
There are actions to take to halt censorship in the community: be aware of what is happening in the community, go to school board and library board meetings, join a group that promotes the right to read, report the censorship incidents to the ALA. More suggestions are listed here on this website.
Stop in the Law library and take a look at our featured display of materials regarding Banned Books Week.