Don’t be left in the dark this Banned Books Week (September 22-28, 2019). The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) offers several resources and activities for libraries and readers that highlight the Banned Books Week 2019 theme “Censorship Leaves Us in the Dark. Keep the Light On.”
The Dear Banned Author letter-writing campaign encourages readers to reach out to banned or challenged authors via letters, emails, and tweets. The program aims to raise awareness of books that are threatened with censorship and ignite discussions about the essential access to a variety of library materials. Authors have also shared fan letters as support when there’s a public challenge to their books.
Libraries are invited to host letter-writing programs. Printable postcards and author mailing addresses can be found on the Dear Banned Author webpage. Eligible tweets to or about banned and challenged authors with the hashtag #DearBannedAuthor will be entered into a drawing to win Banned Books Week materials. Learn more and read the Official Rules before entering.
Readers and libraries can also support the power of words onscreen. The annual Stand for the Banned Read-out invites readers to film themselves reading banned books or talking about censorship. Videos are highlighted on the Banned Books Week YouTube channel.
OIF staff will explore censorship themes with two free webinars designed for libraries and schools to stream as programs during Banned Books Week celebrations. Anyone is welcome to register and attend.
- “Ask Me Anything About Censorship”
- Streaming: September 24 at 6 p.m. CST
- OIF Assistant Director Kristin Pekoll will briefly explore banned book and censorship history, along with ways readers can stay alert about censorship. Attendees are invited to ask questions during the second half of the discussion.
- “Banned Books 101”
- Streaming: September 25 at 1 p.m. CST
- With a suggested audience of students grades 6-12 and young adults, the webinar will review recent challenges to titles, the ways a book can be censored, and stories of students who stood up for the freedom to read. The webinar is led by OIF Interim Director Deborah Caldwell-Stone and Pekoll.
Library workers are invited to join the free webinar “Three Ways Librarians Can Combat Censorship” on Monday, September 23, hosted by SAGE Publishing, Index on Censorship magazine, and OIF. During the webinar, librarians will share their experiences and tips with navigating censorship. The webinar will also highlight how contested books can engage readers in constructive conversations.
There are several places to find materials to celebrate Banned Books Week. Digital posters, glow-in-the-dark buttons, bookmarks, stickers, and more are available on the ALA Store. OIF’s Free Downloads webpage offers social media shareables, coloring sheets, and videos. In celebration of Banned Books Week, banned book T-shirts on the ALA Store will be marked down to $7 starting September 20.
The Celebrating Banned Books Week Facebook group offers a space for readers, library workers, educators, and booksellers to share programming, promotion, and display ideas. Members can also highlight how their community is celebrating the freedom to read. Facebook pages and Facebook users are invited to join the group by answering two questions.
Those celebrating Banned Books Week can also submit their program information to be displayed on Banned Books Week Coalition Events Calendar. The calendar allows readers to search for events in their local area.
About Banned Books Week
First celebrated in 1982, Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas. Every year, libraries, bookstores, universities and organizations host engaging programs and create eye-catching displays. The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted with removal or restricted 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 and the benefits of unrestricted reading. Learn more at ala.org/bbooks.