Banned Books Week is October 1-7, 2023! This is an annual event celebrated for more than 40 years by libraries, schools, and other institutions across the United States that promotes the freedom to read and highlights censorship attempts around the country. Banned Books Week provides an opportunity to exercise our freedoms and engage with perspectives different from our own.
What do you think of when you hear the term “banned books”? Maybe classics like To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, which have been historically banned and restricted in schools, come to mind. Or perhaps book banning is something you’ve heard about in the news more recently. While banning or challenging books1 in the U.S. may seem like an idea of the past, censorship attempts continue to occur frequently in libraries and schools across the nation today.
According to the American Libraries Association (ALA), there have been 1,915 attempts to censor library books in 2023, which is more than ALA has ever recorded since it began collecting information about censorship in libraries 20 years ago. Most of the books that were targeted include stories written “by or about LGBTQIA+ persons and Black, Indigenous, people of color.” Considering the rise in censorship attempts, it’s more important than ever for libraries to champion intellectual freedom and the freedom of expression for all individuals, especially for those who are most vulnerable.
Despite the rising number of book challenges and bans, Banned Books Week celebrates that in the U.S., books still remain widely available. Below are several opportunities to learn more about censorship and engage with books that have been banned around the country. Whether you’re on FSU’s Tallahassee campus or online this week, join FSU Libraries in celebrating intellectual freedom!
- ALA defines a book challenge as “an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based on the objections of a person or group.” Similarly, book “banning is the removal of those materials.” ↩︎
Celebrate with us in-person
Celebrate Banned Books Week with us in person at Strozier Library!
- Visit our Banned Books display in Pop Lit: Discover books available through FSU Libraries that have been banned or challenged in the U.S. Displayed in the Pop Lit section next to the inside Starbucks café, the selections range from historically banned books to the most controversial titles of today. The display will be up for the whole month of October.
- Grab a Banned Books bookmark & pin: On your way in and out of Strozier this week, be sure to look for bookmarks featuring titles that have been frequently restricted around the U.S. Also pick up an “I Read Banned Books” pin to show your support for the freedom to read!
Get involved online
Get involved with Banned Books Week online! There are numerous opportunities on ALA’s website to learn about book banning in greater detail.
- Dive deeper into book bans and challenges: The Banned Book FAQ page provides answers for some of the biggest questions related to censorship: what is a book challenge, why are books challenged, who challenges books, and more. Access the page here: bit.ly/BannedBookFAQ
- Discover the most challenged books of 2022: Check out the 13 titles that were among the most challenged in 2022, including Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer: bit.ly/Top13MostChallengedBooksof2022. Search online for these titles at lib.fsu.edu to access eBooks or reserve a book for pickup.
- Look at censorship by the numbers: Curious about the data on book challenges? Take a look at ALA’s website for a breakdown of censorship activities by the numbers: bit.ly/CensorshipbytheNumbers
This Banned Books Week, celebrate your freedom to read by learning more about book restrictions in the United States and discovering the resources available to you at FSU Libraries!
This post was written by Alaina Faulkner, Student Engagement Associate at FSU Libraries.
Featured image created by Laura Pellini, Graphic Design Specialist.