What makes a book so powerful that people want to prevent it from being read? This is the ever-burning question many people ask about banned books. There is so much tension in the literary world around censorship and banning books that there’s an entire week in September dedicated to openly discussing these books which make some people ‘uncomfortable.’ You will also have a chance to answer the ever-burning question in our Banned Books Week Contest (click on Read More for details).
So what is all this about? The event’s website says it best:
Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.
If you’re up for the challenge of reading a ‘challenged’ book (pun intended!) The library has a contest for you! All you need to do is read a frequently banned book and write a short (200 word maximum) answer to this question: “What makes this book so powerful that people want to ban it?” A panel of local authors will choose the two winners (Adult and Young Adult). Note that there is no age limitation on the book you are writing about. Adults can read a Young Adult book and vice versa. Your answer can be submitted online or at the Information Desk in the library. The grand prize winner takes home a very cool Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us coffee mug and all participants will receive a I Read Banned Books pin for entering. The contest ends September 24th and winners will be announced in October with their submissions being posted on our website.
To help you find a frequently challenged book, there is a display in the Main Reading Room as well as a list at the end of this post. Note that almost every title is available for download from Libby. You don’t have to stop there, however. The American Library Association’s Office For Intellectual Freedom has been keeping track of challenges since 1990. The National Council of Teachers of English has an extensive list of books challenged between 2002 and 2018 as well.
Panel of Judges
Reed Bonadonna – Soldiers and Civilization
Jacqueline Plumez – Mother Power
Rob Sharenow – The Berlin Boxing Club
Todd Strasser – Fallout