10 Most Challenged Books of 2021...
Brooklyn Public Library is adding our voice to those fighting for the rights of teens nationwide to read what they like, discover themselves, and form their own opinions. Inspired by the American Library Association's Freedom to Read Statement, BPL's Books Unbanned initiative is a response to an increasingly coordinated and effective effort to remove books tackling a wide range of topics from library shelves.
For a limited time, individuals ages 13-21 can apply for a free BPL eCard, providing access to our full eBook collection as well as our learning databases. To apply, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is Book Banning? Why Do We Have Banned Books Week?
From the American Library Association's Website:
"Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to read and spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. For 40 years, the annual event has brought together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular. The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted for removal or restriction in libraries and schools. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship."
"In a time of intense political polarization, library staff in every state are facing an unprecedented number of attempts to ban books. ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 729 challenges to library, school and university materials and services in 2021, resulting in more than 1,597 individual book challenges or removals. Most targeted books were by or about Black or LGBTQIA+ persons."
"The theme for Banned Books Week 2022 is "Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us." Sharing stories important to us means sharing a part of ourselves. Books reach across boundaries and build connections between readers. Censorship, on the other hand, creates barriers. Banned Books Week is both a reminder of the unifying power of stories and the divisiveness of censorship, and a call to action for readers across the country to push back against censorship attempts in their communities."
Why are books challenged?
Often challenges are motivated by a desire to protect children from “inappropriate” sexual content or “offensive” language. The following were the top three reasons cited for challenging materials as reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom:
What is the difference between a book challenge or a book ban?
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. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. Due to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens, most challenges are unsuccessful and most materials are retained in the school curriculum or library collection.
Books are still being banned and challenged today. 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.
While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, the books have remained available. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.
What Can You Do? Get Involved!
Help spread the word. Use the hashtag #bannedbooksweek to declare your right to read.
Exercise your reading rights. Check out a banned book. Encourage your book club to discuss rebellious reads.
Brush up on banned book history. The latest edition of Banned Books: Defending Our Freedom to Read contains an annotated list of challenged and banned books, as well as the history of literary censorship.
Participate in the Stand for the Banned Virtual Read-out. Join readers from across the world in filming yourself reading from your favorite banned book. The videos are featured on the Banned Books Week YouTube channel.
Stay informed. If you hear of a challenge at your local library, support your librarian and free and open access to library materials by contacting the Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF). OIF estimates it learns of only 3-18% of book challenges. Find out your library's policy for reviewing challenged materials. Stay updated about intellectual freedom by signing up for the free Intellectual Freedom News newsletter, or reading the Journal for Intellectual Freedom and Privacy.
In Spring of 2022, I interviewed three Stark State College faculty members (Professor Berens, Professor Herrera, and Librarian, Sara Klink) for my research essay. The class was Professor Smith’s College Composition Two, and the research topic was banned/challenged books and materials in schools, libraries, and public access. I was curious about this topic because I am very passionate about books and ‘the power of reading.’ Diving headfirst into these fictional worlds was an escape I desperately needed during a very difficult time in my life, so it frightens me to think about any book being banned. While researching banned books, I found some eye-opening information. Specifically, which books and authors are being targeted for these bans. These books are written by minority authors and books focusing on minority groups/topics. Sara Klink and I decided to organize a Banned Books Week Event at SSC because it has never been done before. With this event, I hope to help inform students and faculty here at SSC about this occurring problem. I also hope that Banned Books Week continues to be celebrated at SSC for years to come.
-Michaela Rich, SSC Student