Banned Books Week 2019, the annual celebration of the freedom to read, will be held September 22-28. The theme of this year’s event is “Censorship Leaves Us in the Dark. Keep the Light On!”
Banned Books Week is the most important opportunity during the year for advocates — publishers, booksellers, librarians, educators, journalists, and readers — to explain why we must defend everyone’s right to choose what they want to read and view. The Banned Books Week Coalition will support indie bookstores’ celebration with programming ideas, promotional materials, and other resources available at bannedbooksweek.org.
Since it was launched in 1982, Banned Books Week has been shining a light on censorship, and the fight for free expression is as urgent as ever. In recent years, attacks on the right to read have become bolder, as legislatures have introduced bills that would eliminate crucial safeguards for the right to read books that some people find offensive.
“The importance of Banned Books Week can never be overstated,” said Mitchell Kaplan, owner of Florida’s Books & Books and co-founder of the Miami Book Fair International. “Independent bookstores everywhere are given the opportunity to shine a light on the importance of fighting to keep our freedom to read intact. In these precarious times, free expression must be allowed to keep the looming darkness at bay.”
In recognition of National Library Week (April 7–13, 2019), the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom released their list of the Top 11 Challenged Books of 2018. In 2018, ALA tracked nearly 350 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services, as well as 483 books that were challenged or banned. Once again, many of the challenged materials included LGBTQIA+ content, including Alex Gino’s George, A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss and EG Keller, Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey, Drama by Raina Telgemeier, This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman and Kristyna Litten, and Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan.
Booksellers are encouraged to join the celebration this September by creating displays and events in their stores during Banned Books Week. Watch Bookselling This Week in the coming months for more announcements about the event.