Sound off on censorship! Join the national literary community from September 21-27, 2014 to celebrate your right to hear powerful stories.
How to Celebrate Banned Books Week
- Listen to a banned or challenged audiobook: Choose an audiobook from our featured collection and share our “I Listen to Banned Audiobooks” badge to spread the word about this important celebration.
- Request a Censors Beware! FREE CD Sampler: Featuring an interview with Judy Blume and clips from frequently banned books, this sampler will get your community talking about the issue of censorship.
- Organize your own Banned Books Week event: Gather together to discuss influential challenged audiobooks or choose an audiobook to listen to together as a community.
- Create a banned audiobook display: Encourage patrons to read and listen by creating a display of frequently challenged books. Find ideas for creating a display here.
- Participate in the Banned Books Week Virtual Read-Out: Find out how your community can submit a video and participate in the event here.
- Find more suggestions for ways to celebrate on the American Library Association website.
- Follow us on Twitter @BOTLibrary for more Banned Books Week news. Check out #BannedBooksWeek and #freetoread14 on Twitter for more great content.
Click here to view our featured collection of the most frequently challenged audiobooks compiled from the ALA’s list of challenged books and the list of “Banned Books That Shaped America.” This collection includes celebrated titles such as:
THE BLUEST EYE
By Toni Morrison
Read by the Author
One of the top three most challenged books of 2013, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye tells the story of Pecola Breedlove, a black girl who feels inferior due to her eye and skin color. Read by the author, this audiobook will initiate discussions about important social issues like racism and sexual assault. Frequently included in high school curriculums, adolescents will be able to relate to the feelings of alienation and insecurity in this moving story.
FIFTY SHADES OF GREY
By E L James
Read by Becca Battoe
Soon to be a major motion picture, this international hit is frequently challenged due to sexually explicit material and literary merit. Bestselling author Nora Roberts defended the romance genre by saying, “The books are about the celebration of falling in love and emotion and commitment, and all of those things we really want.” Previously challenged popular romances include Romeo and Juliet and Lady Chatterley’s Lover, which have now become established volumes in the societal mainstream. E L James’ steamy trilogy is a fun pick for celebrating your freedom to listen.
What is Banned Books Week?
Banned Books Week is an annual awareness campaign that calls attention to banned and challenged books and celebrates freedom of speech. This campaign was launched in 1982, by librarian Judith Krug, former Director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, “in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries.”
What are challenged books?
A challenge is “an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials” from schools and libraries. According to the American Library Association, more than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982.
Why are books challenged?
According to the Office for Intellectual Freedom, the top three reasons are:
- the material was considered to be “sexually explicit”
- the material contained “offensive language”
- the materials was “unsuited to any age group”
Challenges are usually well-intentioned—often to protect children from “difficult ideas and information.” However, censorship of constitutionally protected speech for any reason violates the First Amendment. Furthermore, some of the most frequently challenged books are widely revered classics. Although they tackle difficult subject matter, these powerful stories are also thought-provoking, inspirational, and expose readers and listeners to worlds outside their own.