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The American Booksellers for Free Expression (ABFE) is a sponsor and advocate for Banned Books Week, which celebrates the freedom to read by encouraging readouts, bookstore displays, and community activities designed to raise awareness of the ongoing threat of censorship. Held each year during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores, and libraries. More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982, according to the American Library Association.
The theme of this year’s event is “Books Unite Us, Censorship Divides Us.” This year’s motif is a pair of hands sharing a book, superimposed on a globe. The 2021 theme is intended to be inclusive, emphasizing the ways in which books and information bring people together, help individuals see themselves in the stories of others, and aid the development of empathy and understanding for people from other backgrounds.
In 2020, ALA tracked 156 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services, encompassing 273 books that were challenged. The list includes George by Alex Gino (Scholastic); Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers); and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Balzer + Bray).
As you prepare for the upcoming Banned Books Week, booksellers are encouraged to share their plans and photos of their displays by tagging ABA and using #BannedBooksWeek on social media or contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
The full list of hashtags associated with this year’s event are: #BannedBooksWeek, #bannedbooks, #FirstAmendment, #freespeech, #censorship, #intellectualfreedom, #bannedbookslist, #freespeechfighter.
To learn more, visit www.bannedbooksweek.org.