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Celebrate "Banned Books Week"

Posted at 10:31 AM, Sep 29, 2020

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Throughout history, people have tried to censor what should and should not be read by other people. Challenges included books in schools, bookstores and public libraries.

"Banned Books Week" was started to bring awareness. The theme this year is "Censorship is a Dead End, Find your Freedom to Read."

Hundreds of books have been challenged over the decades. People wanting certain books taken off the shelves and out of circulation. "Catcher in the Rye" is one of the top banned books in history.

"The whole point of books, in general, is to develop empathy for other people in a safe space," said Emily Getzschman, Marketing Manager with Omaha Public Library. "Whether or not you can experience those things firsthand, or hopefully you don't have to because a lot of these are difficult topics. It might help you to relate to people in a way and empathize with them, learn about them. Books are a safe space to do that."

Books that come under scrutiny are those with derogatory language, those that refer to sex, sexuality, same-sex relationships, suicide, witchcraft and what some believe is unacceptable behavior. But there are some that believe in free access to information.

"I would have a problem with that -- it seems like an infringement of rights," said Carole Roy, who doesn't support banning books. "As long as they are not put in the children's section and are labeled as such... I think, freedom of press."

Books that have come under fire are classics like "Huckleberry Finn," along with recent additions like "Hunger Games," "Harry Potter" and "Captain Underpants."

Banned Book Weeks runs from September 27 - October 3rd.

Here are some ways you can celebrate "Banned Book Week"

12 Easy Ways to Celebrate Banned Books Week

1. Read a Banned Book
While this may seem like the most obvious choice, it’s one of the most effective. This list of banned YA books may surprise you!

Head over to the list and choose one book that you’ll read during Banned Books week.

You still have time to buy a copy online or at your local bookstore – or better yet, you can check out a copy from your local library.

Once you’ve chosen a book, block out some time during Banned Books week to read the book. You can even get your friends (or your book club) to join in so that you can read the book together.

2. Tell Authors What Their Work Means To You
Reach out to an author on the banned books list – or any author who you admire – to remind them their work has an impact on readers.

Writing a book is a big deal and it’s incredibly difficult. Authors generously share their passion, imagination and creativity with us through their writing.

No matter how you reach out – through a tweet, comment or e-mail – be sure to let authors know that you appreciate, value and respect the effort and love they put into creating and sharing beautiful and wonderful stories with us.

You can reach out to one or more authors directly, or you can post on your social media publicly and thank all authors for their dedication to writing the books we love.

3. Donate to the ACLU or Buy Banned Book Merch
The American Civil Liberties Union has opposed censorship since its founding in 1920. Buying a Banned Books tote or bookmark pack helps them continue to fight against it.

Literature is such a powerful and prevalent method of communication and expression and we must protect it by fighting against censorship.

And if you can get cool swag in the process, that’s a pretty sweet deal.

4. Share a Banned Books Infographic
The ACLU has this infographic that contains some of the classic books that have been banned or challenged. It’s almost guaranteed that everyone can recognize at least a few of these classic titles.

For another perspective, check out this infographic from the ALA which summarizes the top 10 most challenged books of last year along with some interesting statistics about books being challenged.

The ALA also has a Free Downloads page with a bunch of great images and facts to help spread awareness.

5. Join or Host a Virtual Read-Out
Here’s a neat idea:

The Banned Books Week Read-Out is a continuous reading of banned/challenged books. Join in the fun by creating a video and sending it in!

“Readers from around the world can participate in the Banned Books Virtual Read-Out by creating videos proclaiming the virtues of the freedom to read that will be featured on a dedicated YouTube channel.”

How cool is that?!

Be sure to read the criteria and then fill out this form to submit your video.

If accepted, your video will be featured on the Banned Books Week YouTube channel.

6. Update Your Social Media Profile Picture
Help bring awareness to banned books by changing your social media profile picture during Banned Books Week!

The ALA has you covered with this social media profile picture image in addition to cover photos for both Facebook and Twitter.

Once you update your social media pictures, be sure to post and ask your friends to do the same!

7. Give to the Freedom to Read Foundation
The FRF is a non-profit organization that fights to uphold the First Amendment rights for libraries and individuals to collect information.

Here’s why the Freedom to Read Foundation is so important:

“As we approach Banned Books Week we are reminded that some books are censored before they reach their intended audience. A librarian, teacher, or parent may try to avoid a tough topic by not purchasing a book for a collection – that is a form of censorship. The Freedom to Read Foundation works to promote diverse books and provide access to information – therefore challenging censorship of all forms.”

You can help them with their mission by donating to the FRF to ensure that books can reach the people they’re written for.

8. Support the American Library Association Store
Purchasing posters, mugs, stickers or any other Banned Books merch helps the ALA continue the fight to read.

Make a statement with this “I Read Banned Books” tote bag or grab your own “Read Banned Books” mug.

There’s also this cool Banned Books Week bookmark along with lots of other swag and merchandise.

You’ll be helping to celebrate the freedom to read while scoring some sweet reading paraphernalia.

9. Write a Letter to the Editor
The ALA recommends that readers edit and adapt this “Read a Banned Book” opinion column for your local newspaper.

It’s a simple way to help spread awareness about the importance of Banned Books week throughout your community.

10. Buy From Your Local Bookstore
Consider buying a banned book from your local (or independent) bookstore – you’re helping fight censorship AND supporting your small bookshop at the same time!

Plus, it’s an excuse to buy more books!

11. Attend a Banned Books Week Event
Check your local calendar of events to see what events are being hosted.

No events being hosted? Consider hosting one yourself or having your book club read one or more banned books.

12. Get Informed
The best thing you can do to support Banned Books week is to get informed.

Read about Banned Books week and learn about the history of books that have been challenged and banned.

On this page of the ALA website you can read about the difference between a challenge and a banning, why books are challenged and who challenges them.

Wikipedia has an informative page about censorship of books in the United States.

And on the Banned Books Week website, you can read about the banned books that shaped America.