Banned Books Week, a celebration of our freedom to read, takes place September 27- October 3. Many libraries and book sellers will be offering activities, displays and events to remind us of the importance of everyone’s right to access materials and information. As many books are challenged on the basis of protecting children, it is particularly important that those of us who serve young people be involved in whatever is being planned for Banned Books Week in our libraries.
What is happening in your library?
- A read-aloud of banned/challenged books – Make sure that titles for young people are included, from In the Night Kitchen to Captain Underpants and a certain young wizard who created an international reading craze.
- Displays – Create one in the children’s and teen areas (teen books are especially fertile ground for challenges), or include copies of books for young people if your library is creating one, all-purpose display.
- An article in your library newsletter – If your library offers a newsletter for the public and is including an article on Banned Books Week with a list of frequently challenged books, include some younger titles. Our library article included some challenged titles that might surprise readers; Charlotte’s Web and The Wizard of Oz among others.
- Radio and television – What about contacting a station about participating in a talk show? Two of our children’s librarians are joining a local radio show to talk about the obvious and frequently challenged items as well as some of the more surprising titles.
- Speakers – If your library is hosting a speaker to talk about intellectual freedom and Banned Books Week, go ahead and ask if she/he is including information regarding challenges related to books for young readers. Have a list ready to share!
- A match-up game – On a bulletin board, sheet of paper or bookmark, list titles, plus reasons for challenges and see if people can put the right ones together. Some will be obvious, others not so obvious.
These are only a few ideas and I know that there are many more out there. Please share yours!
I want to close this post with a question and a recommendation. Have you gone to the ALA web site and viewed the Banned Books Week site and the site for the Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF)? These sites are rich resources for anyone who works with young people as well as those who work with adults. They track frequently challenged books, update us on relevant legislation and provide supportive information. If you haven’t visited them yet, I encourage you to do so. Finally, don’t forget that ALA has just released the new Intellectual Freedom Manual, Ninth Edition. It is available in print and e-book formats.
Let’s celebrate our freedom to read!
Toni Bernardi, San Francisco Public Library
Member, ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee