By Ashly Moore Sheldon • September 15, 2022
Launched by the American Library Association (ALA) in 1982, Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating "the freedom to read." The event is designed to draw attention to books that have been banned or challenged throughout the country. These sorts of challenges have been on the rise in recent years. The ALA reported that in 2021, it tracked 729 challenges in libraries, schools, and universities, resulting in 1,597 individual book challenges or removals—many of them by Black or LGBTQ authors and featuring BIPOC or queer characters. You can see the ALA's latest list of 2021's ten most challenged books here.
The theme of this year's event focuses on the ways that books unite us, while censorship divides us. By shining a light on the rise of censorship in schools and libraries around the country, the ALA hopes to bring together the entire book community—librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers—to defend free and open access to information.
You can stand against literary censorship (and expand your reading list!) by participating in the ALA's one-year reading challenge. Read These Banned Books offers 52 must-reads, all banned or challenged books from Lolita to Maus to The Hunger Games. The beautiful book includes ALA's insights into each title as well as a reading journal with writing prompts for further reflection.
The list of books that have repeatedly been banned or challenged throughout history is quite surprising. You may notice that many of these iconic titles were required reading in your high-school or college literature classes. Just imagine if the efforts to suppress access to these classic reads had been successful!
It is so important to protect access to the fullest range of literature and art. Here at Thriftbooks, we stand against literary censorship and we invite you to join us.