At a time of deep political division, this year’s Banned Books Week, September 24–30, will celebrate the importance of the freedom to read for all Americans, as books can open the door to conversations among those who agree and disagree on any number of issues.
In recent years, the American Booksellers Association (ABA), the American Library Association (ALA), the Association of American Publishers (AAP), and other sponsors of Banned Books Week have featured specific categories of banned and challenged books. In 2017, they will stress the freedom to read itself with the theme “Our Right to Read.”
“Our free society depends on the right to access, evaluate, and voice a wide range of ideas,” said Charles Brownstein, executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) and chair of the Banned Books Week Coalition (BBWC). “Book bans chill that right and increase division in the communities where they occur. This Banned Books Week, we’re asking people of all political persuasions to come together and celebrate Our Right to Read.”
The BBWC will encourage conversations about controversial books between those who are challenging them and those who oppose the challenges. The hope is that people can learn something about the concerns of those with whom they disagree.
Programming and resources will be made available over the summer. For the latest developments, visit the Banned Books Week website. Information will also be available on the Banned Books Week Facebook and Twitter pages.
To help bookstores participate in Banned Books Week, ABA will once again be distributing a promotional kit. The kit was created several years ago by American Booksellers for Free Expression and Ingram Content Group. It will be sent in the August Red Box to the most active IndieBound stores; stores that received the kit last year; and, while supplies last, stores that request the kit by filling out this form.
The kit includes 25 feet of “caution” tape; 100 bookmarks for consumer giveaways, featuring four of the most frequently challenged books in 2016; “I Read Banned Books” stickers; an easel-back display; and a pamphlet produced by the American Library Association that describes the titles banned and challenged in 2016.
From August 31 to October 5, Ingram is offering an additional discount on initial orders of 25 or more books on a list of more than 450 banned and challenged titles on ipage®, Ingram’s search and order content platform, as well as on subsequent orders placed during that time. For more information about the discount, stores should contact their Ingram sales representative; call Ingram Customer Care at (800) 937-8200; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ingram is also designing a new promotional piece for this year’s kit.
According to the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) — which tracks reports of book challenges and bans and compiles an annual list of the Top Ten Challenged Books — there was an alarming 17 percent increase in book censorship complaints in 2016. Even more disturbing, half of the most frequently challenged were actually banned last year. Normally, only 10 percent of the titles reported to OIF are removed.
In addition to ABA, ALA, AAP and CBLDF, the members of the Banned Books Week Coalition are the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the American Association of University Presses, Authors Guild, Dramatists Legal Defense Fund, Freedom to Read Foundation, Index on Censorship, National Coalition Against Censorship, National Council of Teachers of English, PEN America, People for the American Way Foundation, and Project Censored. Banned Books Week is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.