160 reasons why Banned Books Week is important

Image by the American Library Association, www.ala.org

Every year, an estimated 10,766 books, databases, displays, speakers, programs, and social media posts are challenged or banned. That means 10,766 stories, views, lessons, and opinions go unshared.

In a world where social media reigns and fake news is all anyone ever hears about, these numbers may seem surprising. How can anything go unsaid anymore? Can’t anyone share what they want, when they want?

Unfortunately, in 2018, many libraries, bookstores, and schools are still challenged about what they will- and won’t- include in their inventory. Banned Books Week is an annual initiative that brings attention to this problem and celebrates the freedom to read. Launched in 1982, Banned Books Week formed in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books, aiming to support the freedom to seek and express ideas, even those that may be considered unorthodox and unpopular.

This year, Banned Books Week is happening now, with the theme “Banning Books Silences Stories.” The theme serves as a reminder that we all need to speak out against the tide of censorship. Whether that means reading your favorite banned books, expressing to others the book’s importance, or conversing with a neighbor about the need for freedom of speech, speaking out is one way for us all to be involved in combating censorship.

In support of Banned Books Week, SAGE and the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom hosted a read-out at the ALA Annual Conference. Here, attendees were able to speak out about their favorite banned books. Librarians, students, parents, educators and more all stepped up to the booth, sharing their thoughts on the freedom to read.

To view the entire video library of 160+ read-outs, featuring a range of books and perspectives, click here.

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