Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
– First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States
Banned Books Week, an annual celebration of the freedom to read, will be celebrated September 18th-24th, 2022. This month, the library will be highlighting books that have been challenged or banned across the country in displays and shelf-talkers in the library.
One of the most cherished values in the library profession is fighting against censorship of any material. It is enshrined in the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights.
Recently, the ALA released a statement on a noticed uptick on challenges to books in libraries across the country:
We are committed to defending the constitutional rights of all individuals, of all ages, to use the resources and services of libraries. We champion and defend the freedom to speak, the freedom to publish, and the freedom to read, as promised by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.
We stand opposed to censorship and any effort to coerce belief, suppress opinion, or punish those whose expression does not conform to what is deemed to be orthodox in history, politics, or belief. The unfettered exchange of ideas is essential to the preservation of a free and democratic society. (Source: ALA)
Banned Books Resources
The American Library Association condemns censorship and works to ensure free access to information. Every year, the Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) compiles a list of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books in order to inform the public about censorship in libraries and schools.
The EveryLibrary Institute and EveryLibrary are partnering with Dr. Tasslyn Magnusson, an independent researcher focused on the networks, organizations, and individual actors who are leading book banning and book challenge efforts in our nation’s school libraries and public libraries.
Most Challenged Books of 2021
Source: American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom
More Challenged Books
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Reasons: Banned and challenged for racial slurs and their negative effect on students, featuring a “white savior” character, and its perception of the Black experience
A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG Keller
Reasons: challenged and vandalized for LGBTQIA+ content and political viewpoints, for concerns that it is “designed to pollute the morals of its readers,” and for not including a content warning
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Reasons: This critically acclaimed, multigenerational novel was challenged and banned because it includes sexual violence and was thought to “lead to terrorism” and “promote Islam.”
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation”
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, illustrated by Henry Cole
Reasons: anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “promotes the homosexual agenda”