‘Censorship Leaves Us in the Dark’
Photo Credit: 
American Library Association

The ACLU of Texas publishes a report each year on book bans and challenges in Texas schools. Go here for the latest report: https://www.aclutx.org/sites/default/files/field_documents/2017-2018_banned_books_4.pdf

 

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores, and libraries. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community—librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types—in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

 

Banned Books Week 2019 will be held September 22–28. The theme of this year’s event proclaims, “Censorship Leaves Us in the Dark,” urging everyone to “Keep the Light On.”

 

Upcoming Events in Texas include:

 

Fort Worth’s Northwest Library, Banned Books Film Series: The Color Purple, September 23

Houston: Banned Together, September 23

Fort Worth’s East Berry Library, Banned Books Film Series: The Color Purple, September 24

The Library Foundation of Austin’s Banned Books Bash, September 25

A screening of To Kill A Mockingbird on the lawn of the Castroville Public Library, September 26

Dallas: Banned Together, September 27

Banned Books Week at Deep Vellum Books in Dallas, September 28

Fort Worth’s Central Library, Banned Books Film Series: To Kill a Mockingbird, September 29

 

Since the inception of Banned Books Week in 1982, libraries and bookstores throughout the country have staged local read-outs, continuous readings of banned and challenged books. Banned authors such as Judy Blume, Stephen Chbosky, and Chris Crutcher have participated. Readers can join the action by posting a video of themselves reading from a banned book or talking about censorship. Videos may be featured on the Banned Books Week YouTube channel.

 

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. The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) compiles lists of challenged books as reported in the media and submitted by librarians and teachers across the country. The Top 11 Challenged Books of 2018 are:

 

  1. George by Alex Gino
    Reasons: banned, challenged, and relocated because it was believed to encourage children to clear browser history and change their bodies using hormones, and for mentioning “dirty magazines,” describing male anatomy, “creating confusion,” and including a transgender character
  2. A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG Keller
    Reasons: banned and challenged for including LGBTQIA+ content, and for political and religious viewpoints
  3. Captain Underpants series written and illustrated by Dav Pilkey
    Reasons: series was challenged because it was perceived as encouraging disruptive behavior, while Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-A-Lot was challenged for including a same-sex couple
  4. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
    Reasons: banned and challenged because it was deemed “anti-cop,” and for profanity, drug use, and sexual references
  5. Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
    Reasons: banned and challenged for including LGBTQIA+ characters and themes
  6. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
    Reasons: banned, challenged, and restricted for addressing teen suicide
  7. This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
    Reasons: banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references, and certain illustrations
  8. Skippyjon Jones series written and illustrated by Judy Schachner
    Reason: challenged for depicting stereotypes of Mexican culture
  9. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: banned and challenged for sexual references, profanity, violence, gambling, and underage drinking, and for its religious viewpoint
  10. This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman, illustrated by Kristyna Litten
    Reason: challenged and burned for including LGBTQIA+ content
  11. Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
    Reason: challenged and burned for including LGBTQIA+ content

 

ALA OIF tracked 347 challenges to library, school, and university materials in 2018, targeting 483 books, programming, displays, and more. In 2018, many of the attacks against reading were aimed at LGBQIA+ content, political viewpoint, and sexual content.

 

The ACLU of Texas publishes a report each year on book bans and challenges in Texas schools. Go here for the latest report: https://www.aclutx.org/sites/default/files/field_documents/2017-2018_banned_books_4.pdf

 

PEN America is highlighting censorship in prisons for Banned Books Week 2019. Go here for books banned in Texas prisons: https://ncac.org/news/blog/highlights-from-texas-prison-systems-banned-books-list.