This week marks the start of the annual Banned Books Week! The event was established in 1982 as a way to celebrate the freedom to read and shine a light on the persistent problem of censorship. Organizations across the nation have been participating ever since. This year the celebration takes place from September 25-October 1.
According to the American Library Association (ALA), Banned Books Week “highlights the value of free and open access to information” as well as “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.”
Since 1982, more than 11,300 books have at least been challenged, meaning a person or group has requested for a book to be removed. In the last year alone, 275 books were recorded challenged by the ALA. Titles of the top ten most challeged books of 2015 include Looking for Alaska by John Green, E.L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey, and I am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings. Books such as these are often challenged for their diverse content.
An infographic on Readers.com explains the reasoning behind these challenges to be primarily caused by books containing offensive language, sexual content, or content unsuited for the age group it is being presented to. Other reasons include violence, homosexuality, religious views, racism, and substance abuse. While some books remain merely challenged, other books suffer a ban from certain countries meaning the book is successfully removed from libraries or being taught in schools.
Banned Books Week celebrates all 11,300 of these challenges. With censorship prohibiting what people can and cannot see or read, it is important to exercise freedom. Turning a blind eye to “diversity” won’t solve anything. This week, and in the weeks following, embrace diversity instead of trying to hide it. Read freely!