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.
Banned Books Week has helped people recognize and navigate censorship, and the battle for free expression is unending. Reading brings people together, but censorship drives us apart. The theme of this year’s event, “Censorship Is a Dead End,” is a reminder that we need to fight censorship to “Find Our Freedom to Read.” This year’s celebration embraces a maze motif, an attainable and customizable idea that offers publishers, booksellers, librarians, educators, journalists, and others an opportunity to engage with their communities in a variety of ways, from passive programing to big events.
According to the American Library Association (ALA), eight of the 10 most challenged books of 2019 were challenged or banned because of LGBTQIA+ content. In 2019, the ALA tracked 377 attempts to censor library, school, and university materials and services, encompassing 566 books that were challenged or banned. The list includes George by Alex Gino (Scholastic); Sex Is a Funny Wordby Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth (Triangle Square); and Drama by Raina Telgemeier (Graphix).
ABA members can download a 8.5x11 Banned Books Week poster to print as a counter card or use on social media under the “Marketing Assets” section on BookWeb.org. Booksellers can choose from one of two designs, with a black or white background.
Booksellers can take advantage of Ingram’s 3 percent discount on banned, challenged, and relocated titles in advance of Banned Books Week. The promotion is running from August 1 to October 4. Place your orders from a list of 2020 banned and challenged titles on ipage®. No promotional code is needed.
The American Libraries Association has also created a list of 40 virtual program ideas for Banned Books Week. Ideas include story time or Q&A with a banned author, a partnership with a local LGBTQIA+ group to address why LGBTQIA+ stories are overwhelmingly censored, an online bingo based on banned book titles, and a partnership with an organization that centers on Black voices to discuss racism and the continuing challenges books about racism and police brutality face.
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.