Banned Books Read-Out and Auction Are Big Hits

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 The 29th annual celebration of Banned Books Week set a record for the number of readings from banned books and brought a successful conclusion to a three-week auction of children’s art by the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression.

More than 650 videos of people reading from their favorite banned books were posted on YouTube during the read-out, which was the centerpiece of this year’s celebration. Meanwhile, ABFFE was conducting an auction of original children’s art on eBay that was the culmination of an auction that began in May at BookExpo America.

“I spent a lot of my time this year staring at YouTube and eBay and hitting the refresh button as the number of videos and bids climbed.  It was very exciting,” said ABFFE President Chris Finan.

The eBay auction involved more than 70 pieces of art by leading artists and illustrators working in children’s publishing today.  The bidding began slowly but grew stronger each week.  The final week of the auction brought the total for the BEA and online components to more than $37,000.

People of all ages participated in the read-out at bookstores, libraries, and their own homes.  Bookstores contributed more than 90 videos of their customers and members of their staffs.  They were joined by Whoopi Goldberg and many authors whose books have been challenged, including Judy Blume, Lauren Myracle, Jay Asher, and Chris Crutcher.  The videos can be seen here.

Most of the bookstore videos featured customers like Jameisha Taylor reading from Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories at Vintage Books in Vancouver, Washington, and Juliette Shelley, reading from Lady Chatterley’s Lover at Poor Richard’s Book Shoppe in Gastonia, North Carolina.

Booksellers also got into the act.  Mary Gleysteen of Eagle Harbor Books on Bainbridge Island in Washington recalled her role in opposing a challenge to Snow Falling on Cedars, and Valerie Koehler of Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston joined her staff in dramatizing the threat of book censorship.

Other bookstores that participated in the read-out included Beach Books, The Book House, Boulevard Books and Café, the Cornell University Bookstore, Hickory Stick Bookshop, The King’s English Bookshop, the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Bookstore, UConn Co-op, the University of Oregon’s Duck Store, and Village Books.

All of the bookstore videos can be viewed on ABFFE’s YouTube channel.