It’s easy to get excited about Banned Books Week, to cheerlead the freedom to read and make displays of titles that will make a jaw drop “How could that book have ever been banned?”
Banned Books Week 2019, the annual celebration of the freedom to read, will be held September 22-28
I got to asking a few questions–
How accurate is it that these books were “banned” or “challenged?”
What exactly am I trying to accomplish with this banned books display?
The ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee has done some great blog posts that look deeper at the meaning of banned and challenged books, how you can productively incorporate them into programs and how to check what is real versus “fake.”
However, as quoted from the advocacy website “The Top Ten lists are only a snapshot of book challenges.Surveys indicate that 82-97% of book challenges – documented requests to remove materials from schools or libraries – remain unreported and receive no media.”
If you hear about a book being challenged or banned, report it. Talk about why the difference between a book being challenged or banned and why books were challenged or banned. We can encourage people to start thinking deeper about these titles.
Some discussion questions from Justin Azevedo that I thought were very helpful as a starting point are:
- “This book was labeled as inappropriate for readers your age because of _______. Did you notice any of those things while you were reading?”
- “Would there be any people who you would recommend not read this book? What about people you think should read this book?”
- “This book has won awards, and is very popular. Books like that often get challenged in in schools and libraries. Why do you think that might be?”
As you and your library are celebrating the freedom to read this month I encourage you to think deeper about how you can increase accurate awareness about banned and challenged books.