For the last 38 years, one week per year has been set aside as a reminder of our right to read, especially if it’s something someone else doesn’t want you to see.
Banned Books Week begins Sunday and lasts through Oct. 1.
“Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries,” according to the Banned Books Week Coalition.
A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials.
Part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, most of the time, the books have remained available. That’s thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.
In 2019 the American Library Association tracked 377 challenges to library, school and university materials and services, and 566 books that were challenged or banned.
Once again, the most challenged materials included LGBTQ content.
Here are the most challenged books of 2019:
“George” by Alex Gino
“Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out” by Susan Kuklin
“A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo” by Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG Keller
“Sex is a Funny Word” by Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smyth
“Prince & Knight” by Daniel Haack, illustrated by Stevie Lewis
“I Am Jazz” by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
“The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood
“Drama” written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
“And Tango Makes Three” by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson illustrated by Henry Cole
Historically, books like George Orwell’s “1984” and Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” that are now considered classics have also been challenged or removed from libraries.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with monitoring your own family’s reading habits. What is wrong is to issue blanket rules of taste for everybody else’s family, too.
We encourage families to be involved in their children’s reading choices. But we also recognize that just because one person thinks a text is inappropriate doesn’t mean everyone else must abide by that standard. Enjoying the freedom to read what we choose means standing up for that same freedom for everyone else.