Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week Banner

“Books and ideas are the most effective weapons against intolerance and ignorance” 
– Lyndon Baines Johnson

Why are we celebrating Banned Books Week?

Every year libraries across the United States celebrate our freedom to read. And by freedom to read—we mean anything.

There are people in the world who read books and think that they are vulgar, inappropriate, and that they should be banned - completely removed from shelves where anyone can read them.

Imagine a world where  all books in the library were pulled off the shelves because they offended someone… we wouldn’t have any books left!

When we celebrate Banned Books Week - we are not only celebrating and highlighting books that have been banned in various libraries - but also books that have been challenged and remained available to be read. A challenged book is one that someone has had an issue with and formally puts in writing that they wish that book to be removed from the shelves. The book and challenge are then evaluated by the library and the library board to determine if the book should indeed be removed from the shelves, or if it should stay in the collection. Most often, the books are returned to the shelves. In the very rare cases when the book is not - it is then considered banned.

infographic definition of challenged vs banned books
an infographic listing five types of censorship

Libraries celebrate challenged and banned books to make a point. Libraries work very hard to uphold freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and equity of access to materials for all people. We want YOU to know that you have the freedom to read whatever you want—and no one should stop you from doing so. No one person or group within a community should be able to tell the entire rest of the community what they should or should not be reading. We fight for your right to read and have access to information- and that is why we celebrate Banned Books Week!

The Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2021

list of the top 10 challenged books in 2021

Why are Materials  Challenged?

WHY books challenged graphic

What Type of Materials Are Challenged?

graph showing types of challenges in 2020 - 73%books 14%programs 3%social media 2%displays 1% films

In the end….

 Would you rather read a book that might offend you - even if that same book could help someone going through a difficult time? Would you rather be sheltered from knowing about some of the harsh realities of the world - or would you rather read about them?

 If you can find something that offends you in the library’s collection, then we are doing our job right. We’re in the business of expanding minds by giving everyone the opportunity to read about life as it is - the ugly and the beautiful. 

Along with the freedom to read a particular book—is the right NOT to read.

We urge you to continue to exercising the right of CHOICE.

For More Information:

Learn more about banned books at the American Library Association website.

Resources in Spanish:

♦ An article in Vanity Fair about the 10 most censored books in 2016.