It’s Banned Books Week.
What, exactly, is that?
Banned Books Week has been held in the United States each year in September since 1982. It’s considered an annual awareness campaign hosted by the American Library Association and Amnesty International.
According to Wikipedia, it “celebrates the freedom to read, draws attention to banned and challenged books, and highlights persecuted individuals.” The campaign promotes the importance of maintaining the the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints so that those who wish to access and read them may do so in order to consider their own opinions on the matters at hand, drawing their own conclusions as a result of the materials remaining publicly available in order for them to do so.
There’s been an increasing number of banned or challenged books since 1982. The American Library Association has released that the total number of book challenges in 2022 is set to exceed the mind-boggling record set in 2021.
“Between January 1 and August 31, 2022, ALA documented 681 attempts to ban or restrict library resources, and 1,651 unique titles were targeted. In 2021, ALA reported 729 attempts to censor library resources, targeting 1,597 books, which represented the highest number of attempted book bans since ALA began compiling these lists more than 20 years ago.”
Banning and challenging books limits our ability to learn and inspire new opinions outside of our own personal experiences. Without the opportunity to explore books that express voices and experiences we’ve never considered, we’re stagnant. We’re stuck. We’re going backward in time rather than embracing new points of view, stories, and identities.
The American Library Association compiles lists of challenged books each year from media reports, librarians, and teachers across the United States.
The 10 most-challenged Books of 2021 are:
1. Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
2. Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison
3. All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
4. Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez
5. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
6. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
7. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
8. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
9. This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson
10. Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin
Read about why each book was reportedly challenged, here.