Since the 1980s, the National Library Association has been celebrating the freedom to read with Banned Books Week, highlighting current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools.
Over the years, many books have been challenged or banned from libraries and schools for a variety of reasons, some as seemingly innocent as featuring talking animals, like Charlotte’s Web. Others, such as the Harry Potter series, Of Mice and Men and To Kill A Mockingbird, find themselves on the Top Ten Banned Books list year after year.
The ALA says Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community, including 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.
“It’s about educating people on why censorship is so harmful.” Williston Community Library Director Andrea Placher told the Williston Herald.
Banned Books Week is Sunday. Sept. 26 to Oct. 1, and the library is featuring a display of 2020’s top 10 banned books. The library will host “passive programming” for the week, with daily activities like word searches, coloring sheets and “banned book in a jar,” where patrons can read the descriptions of books and why there were banned, and try to decipher the book’s title. Placher said it’s just another way to engage people in the library, and show them why access to books and ideas should be available to all.
“We try to make it fun and catchy to get people’s attention to learn a little bit more about censorship and why it is troubling.” Placher said.
She added that the majority of books that are challenged are children’s and Young Adult books. The issue, she said, can be when those challenging a book see only one aspect of the book and not the full context. She encourages parents of young readers to stay in-tune with what their kids are reading, and be open to conversations about the material.
“Be involved in what your child is reading, and give the book an honest chance.” Placher said. “Read the material for yourself. We really try to promote that here. One little piece might stick out to you, but maybe if you were to read the entire novel, the context would come in to play a little bit more. We realize that not every book is for every family, and that’s ok. But it’s important that we understand that while it may not be for you, it’s the other guy’s freedom to read as well.”
You can learn more about Banned Books Week and what books are on this and previous years’ lists by visiting www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/banned.