Banned Books Week has arrived, a chance for readers to appreciate the literature that has been challenged in the past and gain a greater appreciation for intellectual freedom.
The week-long celebration of literature is being sponsored by the American Library Association, which noted that the week acknowledges “30 Years of Liberating Literature.”
Barbara Jones, Director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom at the ALA Headquarters in Chicago, told Independent Publisher more about this year’s plans.
“We invite all fifty states to discuss their support for Banned Books Week,” Jones said. “There are funny and inspiring stories, and it is wonderful to see we have support across the country. In spite of the politics going on at the moment, there is still a groundswell of support for intellectual freedom.”
The 30th anniversary of Banned Books week is bringing together a mix of writers, librarians, and celebrities for an event called the Banned Books Virtual Read-Out. The American Library Association has even started a YouTube channel for those celebrating along at home. It has also created an interactive timeline showing challenged and banned books.
“Every day, people can look at books that have been challenged in the past 30 years and see why they were deemed problematic,” Jones said.
There will be smaller-scale celebrations in many US cities. As the San Francisco Chronicle noted, the venerated bookstore City Light Books will be posting videos of local authors reading their favorite illicit literary scenes to bigcitylights.com.
Books banned at one point or another include Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.
Tied into Banned Books Week is Banned Websites Awareness Day, celebrated October 3.
“We focus on how websites in schools are being blocked so students can’t do proper research,” Jones said. “This is another kind of barrier to access. We find that as we move into the age of social media, more and more barriers are being put up and we want to draw people’s awareness to that.”
After 30 years, Banned Books Week has spread out of the United States to a number of countries, including the UK, Finland, and Norway.