Freedom to Read: Banned Books Week
September 25th – October 1st, the National Library Association celebrates the freedom to read with Banned Books Week.
Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom that we enjoy in this country to be able to read books regardless of other’s personal beliefs. The American Library Association states that by celebrating banned books, “draw national attention to the harms of censorship.” (Source) This year, Banned Books Week specifically celebrates diverse books written for Young Adults. According to the Banned Books Week website, “It is estimated that over half of all banned books are by authors of color, or contain events and issues concerning diverse communities” (Source). In response to this discrepancy in YA books, the We Need Diverse Books website has evolved as a call to action for diverse authors and major publishers to help diversify our reading landscape.
In the words of the immortal Judy Blume, banning books “sends a negative message to kids that books are dangerous.”
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Each year the Banned Books Week website hosts a “virtual read-out” in which participants can pledge to read banned books. Below is a list of the top ten most challenged and banned books of 2015.
- Looking for Alaska, by John Green
- Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James
- I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
- Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
- The Holy Bible
- Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
- Habibi, by Craig Thompson
- Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, by Jeanette Winter
- Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan
Readers can submit a video to the Banned Books Week YouTube channel proclaiming why they read banned books and the merit in continuing to diversify YA books. See the criteria and submission form to participate in the virtual read-out this year.