Banned Books Week (September 27 – October 3, 2020) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. It 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.
The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted for removal or restriction in libraries and schools. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.
Banned Books Week took off in the 1980’s as a result of increased challenges and ultimately a Supreme Court case in 1982 that ruled school officials cannot ban library books based on content. The Banned Book Week initiative flourished, sparked by members of the American Booksellers Association, the American Library Association, and the National Association of College Stores and being picked up by major news outlets covering events. Also, it rose in popularity as public officials, such as governors and mayors affirmed the week.
Initiated by Judith Krug in 1982, as the Director of the Office of Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association (ALA) , Krug continued to lead the Banned Books Week efforts until her death in 2009.
The ALA is currently part of a national coalition to promote Banned Books Week as are 14 other contributors and sponsors. Today, Banned Books Week coverage by mainstream media reaches an estimated 2.8 billion readers, and more than 90,000 publishing industry and library subscribers.
Books are still being challenged (an attempt to remove or restrict material) and banned (the removal of those materials) based upon the objections of a person or group.
While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, the books have remained available. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.
Information from the ALA website
Duff et al.