29 September 2011

Banned Books Week, 24 September - 1 October 2011

Banned Books Week has been observed annually in the United States since 1982. It's sponsored by the American Library Association and nine other groups. For more information on the goals and importance of the week in the US, see this ALA page. For an international perspective on issues of censorship, see this AI page. And for a site focussing entirely on Banned Books Week, including videos, click here. YouTube even has a dedicated channel for Banned Books Week.

It seems likely to me that most readers of this blog sympathize with the goals of Banned Books Week--raising awareness about issues of censorship, advocating for intellectual freedom. It's good to err, though, on the side of greater vigilance, and to look for creative ways to help extend to others, wherever they live, the freedoms that some of us already enjoy. (One condition for these readerly freedoms, obviously, is literacy itself. Consider visiting the website of First Book [for the US and Canada] or the UNESCO literacy portal.)

One frequent suggestion from the organizers of Banned Books Week: celebrate your freedom to read by reading a banned or challenged book. To get some ideas, see the ALA's lists of banned and challenged classics and most frequently challenged authors of the 21st century. Or link directly to some historically banned/challenged classics that you can download for free: books like Fanny Hill, Huckleberry Finn, The AwakeningThe Jungle and Ulysses.

I hope you'll share here your experiences with banned and challenged books and your ideas for improving access for others to all books. And I'll return to the topic of (specific) banned and challenged books throughout the months ahead.

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