It’s Banned Books Week!

Wait. Why would you celebrate banning books? 

Books Unite Us, Censorship Divides Us. Banned Books Week, Sept. 26-Oct. 2, 2021.

It’s actually the opposite. Banned Books Week draws attention to books that have been challenged for removal in library and school collections and draws attention to historical banning or removal of texts. Celebrating Banned Books Week reminds us of the power of words. 

Click through to read more about Banned Books Week, including the books that were most frequently challenged in 2020. 

Removing a book from the collection due to inaccuracies, age, or condition (something libraries often do in order to provide the best resources to their users) is different than banning or requesting to ban a book– most books that are challenged because they represent marginalized communities, have “profane” or “offensive” language or content, or disagree with someone’s political, religious, or social viewpoint. Self-selection and choosing to not read a book because you disagree with it is different than requesting to remove it from a collection so no one can read it. 

Check out the graphic below, representing why books were requested to be  censored, as reported to the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom–

Censorship by the numbers graphic noting that most challenges are in schools, by parents and refer to political, social, and religious viewpoints they disagree with

Many of the books challenged for removal from collections deal with perceptions of violence, drug use, language, or “lifestyle” (often related to sexual orientation or gender identity). 

The Banned Books Week YouTube Channel has some excellent resources and discussions for those wishing to dive a little deeper into this topic, including some discussions by authors whose books have been challenged (see the Celebrity Read-Outs) and a video on the top 10 most challenged books of 2020.

The American Library Association (ALA) Office of Intellectual Freedom has the top ten challenged books list— if you’re curious about their content, feel free to browse the Durham Tech Book and DVD Catalog or Dogwood Digital Collection to read these books. 

And who knows– maybe ‘A book that has been banned or challenged’ can be complete your “Choose your own category” option in the Read Great Things 2021 Challenge (or it can just count towards your Read Great Things Sprint).