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What is Banned Book Week, anyway?

Every year, around the last week of September, librarians, publishers, booksellers, teachers, and book lovers unite as a community to celebrate Banned Book Week. By showing support for titles that have been frequently banned in schools and libraries, we raise awareness of censorship and how harmful and restricting it can be. It’s a celebration of the freedom to read and to express opinions – no matter how unpopular or controversial they may be.

Want know more about banned books? The American Library Association also has a list of the most frequently challenged books.

Banned, Challenged, what’s the difference?

While it might seem like the two terms mean the same thing, they are really quite different. A challenged book  has had someone (group or individual) attempt to remove it from a school or library, or to restrict access to the item. A banned book has been removed from a library or school so that no one may access it.

Why is this such a big deal?

Those who challenge books often do so with good intentions, usually to prevent difficult or offensive material from harming or influencing others. This is called censorship. Most often it is to protect children from explicit content or offensive language, or because the material is not considered appropriate for their age group.

However noble the intentions, restriction of access to information on a library level violates ALA’s Library Bill of Rights, not to mention the First Amendment. For more information on why books are challenged, check out ALA’s website: About Banned & Challenged Books

Featured Banned & Challenged Books

Check out these titles, featured on our display next to the circulation desk:

  •  Animal Farm by George Orwell. Call # PR6029.R8 A5 1960.
  • 1984 by George Orwell. Call # PR6029.R8 N49 1977.
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Call # PS3511.I9 G854 1953.
  • Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger. Call # PS3537 .A426 C3x 1964.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Call # PS3562.E353 T6 1982.
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry. Call # JUV PZ7 .L9673 Gi1993b.
  • The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. Call# PS3515 .E37 S8 2006.
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. Call # PS3515.U789 T5 2006.
  • The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. Call # DS135.N6 F73313 1995.
  • Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Call # PR9199.3 .A8 H3 1998.
  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. Call # PS1305.A2 H5 1987. Also available as an e-book. 
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling. Call # PZ .R79835 Har 1998.
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling. Call # PZ7 .R79835 Har 2000.
  • Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. Call # PS3555.L625 I5 1995.
  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. Call # PS3527 .A15 L7x 1958.
  • Catch-22 by Joesph Heller. Call # PS3515.E33 C32 196.
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Call # PR6015.U9 B65 1998.
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. Call # PS3537.lT3234 G8 2002.
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker. Call # PS3573.A425 C6 1982.
  • Ulysses by James Joyce. Call # PR6019 .O9 U4 1961x.
  • The Librarian of Basra: a true story from Iraq by Jeanette Winter. Call # JUV Z720 .B24 W56 2004. +

Have a favorite banned book? Let us know!