Reading what you want, when you want – it’s a freedom most of us take for granted. But like all liberties, the freedom to read must be nurtured and protected to be preserved. One way of raising awareness of the reality of banned books and the importance of maintaining intellectual freedom is by celebrating Banned Books Week, an annual event emphasizing the freedom to read. This year’s Banned Books Week is held from September 30 through October 6.
Banned Books Week began in 1982 as an awareness campaign by library activist Judith Krug to draw attention to banned and challenged books and celebrate personal intellectual choice. It stresses the importance of free and open public access to information and also draws attention to the gravity of the issue by spotlighting books that have been challenged or banned in schools or libraries.
During Banned Books Week, books that have been banned, challenged or have been the targets of either are featured in libraries, schools and bookstores. A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials based on the objections of an individual or group who feel the material is inappropriate, lewd or offensive in some way. If it’s successful, the book can be banned. While the intentions behind challenging and banning books may be good – to protect children from “inappropriate” language or sexual content, for example –the effects on the freedoms and liberties of a society could be devastating.
Since 1982, more than 11,000 books have been “challenged,” or an attempt has been made to remove or restrict them based on the objections of either an individual or group. In 2011, the top ten list included titles such as To Kill a Mockingbird; The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins; Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and the Gossip Girl series, by Cecily Von Ziegesar. Thanks to the commitment of librarians and teachers, parents and students as well as other concerned citizens, very few challenges are successful and most materials remain in public or school libraries.
Banned Books Week Event at Main Library
In recognition of Banned Books Week, watch segments of the banned movie To Kill A Mockingbird on Wednesday, October 3, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., at the Main Library, 100 S. Andrews Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301. During the movie presentation, Dr. Christine Jackson, a literature professor at Nova Southeastern University, will lead a discussion of the controversies that have led the movie to be categorized as banned.
The movie To Kill A Mockingbird is based on Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, published in 1960, about innocence, strength and conviction. The plot and characters are loosely taken from an event that happened in Lee's hometown of Monroeville, Alabama in 1936. The film is ranked 25th on the American Film Institute’s 10th anniversary list of the greatest American movies of all time.
For more information on this program, which is sponsored by the Friends of the Fort Lauderdale Libraries, please call 954-357-7443.
Five Ways to Celebrate Banned Books Week
- Start a Banned Books Club. Gather a group of like-minded readers and choose a book from the selections at the bottom of this week’s Spotlight, all of them challenged in 2011. Discuss not just the plot and characters, but why the book might have been banned. Check the library’s catalog and reserve copies of your club’s selection for free.
- Go to the Source - Your Library! Visit one of the many Broward County Library locations countywide and enjoy the freedom to read – for free! If you like your books on the go, visit BCL – WoW – Broward County Library Without Walls and choose from thousands of free downloadable eBooks including bestsellers and other favorites.
- Keep In Touch: Go on Twitter and follow Broward County Library, or use your own account to let the world know how you feel about Banned Books Week, your favorite banned book or whatever else is on your mind.
- Join the Virtual Read Out with Banned Books Week honorary co-chairs Bill Moyers and Judith Davidson Moyers. Just visit the Banned Books Week Virtual Read Out YouTube channel and express your support for the First Amendment by reading. Upload a three-minute video that shows how you feel about banned books. Read a favorite passage from a banned book, express your thoughts – be creative! Last year, more than 800 videos were uploaded including posts from Judy Blume, Whoopi Goldberg, Chris Cutcher and more.
- Get Involved in Your Library: Support literacy and intellectual freedom by volunteering at your library. Be a literacy tutor, shelve books, make friends and give back to your community – find out how you can get help!
Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Library Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the Association of American Publishers, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the National Association of College Stores, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, National Coalition Against Censorship, the National Council of Teachers of English and PEN American Center. Banned Books Week is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and Project Censored.
| Books Challenged in 2010-2011 – Available at BCL:|