In conjunction with the release of the American Library Association’s annual list of the books asked most frequently to be removed from libraries, the Banned Books Week Coalition announced plans for this year’s Banned Books Week, subtitled Censorship Leaves Us In the Dark. This year's event will be held September 22-28.
Founded in 1982, Banned Books Week is an annual event designed to organize publishers, booksellers, librarians, educators, journalists and readers to explain and advocate for free expression and to defend the right of every individual to read what they choose. The Banned Books Week Coalition is an alliance between 15 institutions that work in support of the week-long celebration of the right to read. Among its member-institutions are the American Booksellers Association, ALA, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and the National Coalition Against Censorship.
The BBW Coalition has created a package of programming ideas, events, and promotional resources to help retailers, librarians and others to celebrate books and the freedom to read. BBW resources will be made available via its website at BannedBooksWeek.org.
This year the coalition is making a special effort to encourage booksellers to support and participate in Banned Books Week. BBWC will be issuing a variety of materials, among them shelf-talkers, web/social media resources and materials under the resources and promotional tools section of the website. The coalition will also be issuing an updated Celebrate Banned Books Week Handbook in the next few weeks (the 2018 handbook is still online and still offers relevant information).
In addition the coalition is encouraging retailers planning BBW events to add their events to the BBW calendar page, which includes a form for submissions.
The ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom has just released its annual list of Top 10 most challenged books (it’s 11 this year because of a tie). In public libraries, a book challenge means someone has formally requested a book be removed from the library. The list features such titles This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman, illustrated by Kristyna Litten (#10), and Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan (#11) as well as Raina Telgemeier’s graphic novel Drama (#5), and Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants graphic novels series (#3). Six of this year’s top 10 list of most challenged books were attacked because they include LGBTQ content.
Gayle E. Pitman, author of a challenged book which includes LBGTQ themes, said, “whether it involves removing a book from a shelf or burning a book in a trash can, all of these are attempts to erase, silence, and destroy our communities. This is an opportunity for all of us to stand up for the freedom to read, as well as for the right to see ourselves reflected in books and for our communities to exist without oppression.”
Describing the importance of Banned Books Week to booksellers, Mitchell Kaplan, owner of Books & Books and cofounder of the Miami Book Fair International, said, “Independent bookstores everywhere are given the opportunity to shine a light on the importance of fighting to keep our freedom to read intact. In these precarious times, free expression must be allowed to keep the looming darkness at bay.”