ABFFE Announces Plans for 30th Banned Books Week

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The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) is urging booksellers to participate in the 30th annual celebration of Banned Books Week, which will be held from September 30 to October 6. Last year’s celebration was the biggest ever, with more than 800 people participating in an Internet read-out from banned books and more than 90 who recorded their videos in bookstores. Press coverage of Banned Books Week activities more than doubled.

“Booksellers have given a lot to Banned Books Week and received a lot in return,” ABFFE President Chris Finan said. “They have been instrumental in carrying the message that the threat of censorship exists even in America. At the same time, they have made it clear to people that bookstores play a vital role in protecting their freedom.”

The American Library Association recently reported that there were 326 book challenges in 2011. The most frequently challenged books were ttyl by Lauren Myracle; The Color of Earth by Kim Don Hwa; The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins; My Mother’s Having a Baby! A Kid’s Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy by Dori Hillestad Butler; The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie; Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor; Brave New World by Aldous Huxley; What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones; Gossip Girl by Cecily Von Ziegesar, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

There is a wide variety of ways that booksellers can participate in Banned Books Week. There will be another Internet read-out on YouTube this year, and ABFFE will provide simple instructions for creating videos and help booksellers put them online. A sample of the videos produced last year by booksellers and their customers can be viewed on the ABFFE website. All of the bookstore videos are available on the ABFFE YouTube channel.

ABFFE is also working with the MLRC Institute to provide speakers to bookstores that may be interested in hosting a program about censorship. Once a bookstore volunteers, MLRC Institute, a not-for-profit educational organization focused on the media and the First Amendment, contacts a media attorney in the area who has extensive experience in laws affecting free speech. The program can address free speech generally or focus on specific topics, such as censorship in schools and threats to free speech on the Internet. Many bookstores have hosted programs since the founding of the MLRC Institute’s First Amendment Speakers Bureau in 2006. (The bureau is funded by a grant from the Dow Jones Foundation.) Interested booksellers should contact Chris Finan, chris@abffe.org, (212) 587-4025, ext. 4.

ABFFE’s Banned Books Week Handbook provides a variety of resources for booksellers, including event ideas, sample displays, posters that can be downloaded for free, and discounts on ABFFE T-shirts, buttons, bookmarks and bumper stickers. The American Library Association produces new Banned Books Week promotional material every year. Additional resources are available on the Banned Books Week website, www.bannedbooksweek.org.