Banned Books Week

September 27th, 2010

The Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event that celebrates the “freedom to read”.  The campaign was started in 1982 and is held during the last week of September. The United States campaign, sponsored amongst others, by the American Library Association “highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.” [1]

During this week, the Amnesty International directs attention to “the plight of individuals who are persecuted because of the writings that they produce, circulate or read”. [2]

The idea behind the event is to promote intellectual freedom: it encourages individuals to read books that have been challenged due to the unorthodox viewpoints expressed in these works of literature. Every year, the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom records attempts by individuals and groups to ban books from libraries and classrooms. If you thought that censorship was a thing of the past, take a look at the Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2009.  At-least 46 of the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century have been targeted. The list includes acclaimed classics such as Catcher in the Rye, and To Kill a Mockingbird.

While some books are banned or restricted, a majority of them are not banned due to the efforts of librarians, booksellers, students, teachers, and the reading community at large. It is due to events like these that attention is drawn to the dangers of imposing restrictions on the availability of information in our world.