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Banned Book Week 2023: “Let Freedom Read”



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Since its inception over 40 years ago, Banned Books Week has been an unwavering advocate for the freedom to read, highlighting attempts to censor books in schools and libraries.

The need for Banned Books Week is more pronounced than ever, given the escalating efforts to ban books. This event sees the collective effort of the entire book community, from librarians, educators, writers to publishers, all standing together in defense of the freedom to express and access ideas, irrespective of how they’re perceived by some factions of society.

The data from 2022 underscores the urgency. ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom recorded 1,269 demands to censor library materials, a record-breaking figure in the past two decades. A majority of these titles were either penned by or themed around the LGBTQIA+ community or Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color.

The theme for this year, “Let Freedom Read,” is not just a motto but a rallying cry. It emphasizes the danger in stifling diverse voices and stories. Between January and August of 2023, there were 695 attempts to censor library materials, targeting a whopping 1,915 unique titles – marking a 20% rise from 2022. Most of these challenges revolved around voices and stories of color and the LGBTQIA+ narratives. Public libraries, the very institutions that serve as beacons of free thought and information, bore the brunt with 49% of the book challenges.

Running from October 1-7, 2023, it’s not just about highlighting the problem but actively advocating for a solution. It’s a call for public support, for uniting against the tide of censorship and for reinforcing the essential principle that knowledge should always be free and accessible.

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