Banned Books Week attempts to shed a light on censorship

The first week of October marks Banned Books Week, an annual celebration of freedom amid attempts to censor books in libraries and schools across the country. 

“This is a dangerous time for readers and the public servants who provide access to reading materials. Readers, particularly students, are losing access to critical information, and librarians and teachers are under attack for doing their jobs,” said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom 

Led by conservative Republicans, the banned book movement has gained momentum. There have been nearly 700 attempts to censor library materials and services in the first eight months of this year, the ALA reports. 

“The number of unique titles challenged has increased by 20% from the same reporting period in 2022,” the ALA stated. 

Most of the book challenges were reportedly either written by or about a person of color or those in the LGBTQ+ community. In 2022, the state with the most book challenges was Texas. More than 2,300 titles were challenged in the state. Nevada was the only state with no titles challenged. 

“These attacks on our freedom to read should trouble every person who values liberty and our constitutional rights,” Caldwell-Stone said. “To allow a group of people or any individual, no matter how powerful or loud, to become the decision-maker about what books we can read or whether libraries exist, is to place all of our rights and liberties in jeopardy.”

During Banned Books Week, the ALA is promoting the theme, “Let Freedom Read.” The organization’s message is a call to action to support readers, writers, library staff, educators and publishers.