Banned Books Week 2016 to Focus on Diversity

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This year’s celebration of Banned Books Week will shine the spotlight on diversity and especially on the question of why so many diverse books are banned, the Banned Books Week Coalition announced on Tuesday, February 23. Banned Books Week, the annual celebration of the freedom to read, will run from September 25−October 1, 2016, and will be observed in thousands of bookstores, libraries, schools, and other community settings across the nation and around the world.

Banned Books Week 2016 will celebrate banned or challenged literature by diverse writers and explore why diverse books are disproportionately singled out for attack. The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom estimates that more than half of all banned books are by authors of color, or contain events and issues concerning diverse communities.

“It’s alarming to see so many diverse voices facing censorship,” said Charles Brownstein, chair of the Banned Books Week Coalition, whose members include the American Booksellers for Free Expression (ABFE) and the American Library Association (ALA). “2016’s Banned Books Week is an important moment for communities to join together in affirming the value of diverse ideas and multiple viewpoints. By shining a light on how these ideas are censored, we hope to encourage opportunities to create engagement and understanding within our communities, and to emphasize the fundamental importance of the freedom to read.”

ABFE Director Chris Finan said, “We are sure that booksellers will embrace this year's theme. There are so many important books about the experiences of members of minority groups.”

©American Library Association

Individuals, institutions, and other groups seeking to join in the celebration of Banned Books Week are encouraged to visit for more information, activities, and resources. They can also join the conversation using the hastag #BannedBooksWeek, and follow activities on Twitter and Facebook.

In addition to ABFE and ALA, Banned Books Week’s sponsors include the American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of American Publishers, Association of American University Presses, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Dramatists Legal Defense Fund, Freedom to Read Foundation, National Association of College Stores, National Coalition Against Censorship, National Council of Teachers of English, People For the American Way Foundation, PEN American Center, and Project Censored.

The coalition will also be partnering with library, reader, and author groups, including We Need Diverse Books™ to bring meaningful conversation to this year’s programming.