Banned Books Week is an annual celebration of our right to access books and read without censorship, a crucial component of democracy. Libraries and book stores all across the country participate every year.
Though most of us are free to access and read what we want to, it is important to note that books are constantly being challenged. A challenge is defined as “a formal, written complaint requesting a book be removed from library shelves or school curriculum.” Since 1990, more than 10,000 book challenges have been recorded by the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.
In 2016 alone, there were 323 recorded book challenges. This One Summer, by Mariko Tamaki, was the most frequently challenged book in 2016. Almost all of the books on the top 10 list for 2016 were challenged because of LGBTQ issues or characters, except #9, the Little Bill series by Bill Cosby, which was challenged due to criminal sexual allegations against the author.
About three out of four of all challenges are directed at material in schools or school libraries, and about one in four challenges go to public libraries. The Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) estimates that less than one-quarter of challenges are reported and recorded.
As part of our celebration of Banned Books Week, we are hosting a Banned Books Read Out on Thursday, September 28th, 2017 from noon-1:00 p.m. at the Rock by the MSU Auditorium. All are welcome to attend!
Bring your own book and a read from it or choose one from our book truck of frequently challenged books that will be available on-site at the event. In most cases, there is a slip of paper inside that explains where, when, and why the book was banned. We will take turns reading at the podium. If you plan to read a passage, introduce yourself and read for about 5 minutes. We hope to see you there!
In addition to the Banned Books Readout, we also created a Banned Books Week exhibit featuring challenged books on the first floor (west wing) of the Main Library. Come on over and check it out!
Happy Banned Books Week!