Banned Books Week to Feature Virtual Read-Out

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This year, for the first time, readers from around the world will be able to participate virtually in Banned Books Week. During the September 24 – October 1 celebration, readers will be able to proclaim the virtues of their favorite banned books by posting videos of themselves reading excerpts to a dedicated YouTube channel.

Videos (no more than two minutes long) can be submitted by anyone as long as the video includes a reading from a banned or challenged book. (A list of banned literary classics can be found here.) Videos of up to three minutes giving eyewitness accounts of local challenges can also be submitted.

In addition to submissions by individuals, bookstores and libraries are encouraged to film their customers and patrons and upload the videos as part of their Banned Books Week celebrations. Publishers are invited to provide videos of their authors either reading from a banned book or talking about the problem of censorship.

Videos can be posted beginning in early September. Details will be available on the joint Banned Books Week website, Questions can be sent to [email protected].

Since the inception of Banned Books Week in 1982, bookstores and libraries throughout the country have staged local read-outs as part of their activities. In partnership with community groups, they have created new ways to celebrate Banned Books Week, thanks to generous grants provided by the Judith Krug Memorial Fund. Copenhagen and London joined in the celebration of Banned Books Week in 2010.

A coalition including ALA, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the Association of American Publishers, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the National Association of College Stores, the National Coalition Against Censorship, the National Council of Teachers of English, the PEN American Center, with the endorsement of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, have joined forces to create, a website designed to support global participation in Banned Books Week  This joint website will also link to each of the above organizations’ websites for further information and Banned Books Week activities.

Banned Books Week highlights the threats to the freedom to read posed by the hundreds of challenges to books in schools and libraries every year. The American Library Association reports 348 challenges last year, but acknowledges that many go unreported.

Last year’s most challenged book was And Tango Makes Three, an award-winning children’s picture book, based on an actual incident, that tells the story of two male penguins who hatch an abandoned egg and parent the chick. The book has been on the list of most frequently challenged books for five years.

Other titles frequently challenged last year include Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and books in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series. ALA publishes a Top Ten Banned Books List annually.