Banned Books Week Right Around the Corner

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

With Banned Books Week, the national celebration of First Amendment rights, just over two weeks away, booksellers are being encouraged to take advantage of the event to educate the public about the importance of protecting bookstore and library privacy, particularly since the passage of the USA Patriot Act in October 2001.

One of bookstore customers' most popular promotions, Banned Books Week, held this year from September 25 - October 2, is sponsored by ABA, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE), the American Library Association (ALA), the Association of American Publishers, the American Society of Journalists and authors, and the National Association of College Stores. Banned Books Week is also endorsed by the Center for the Book of the Library of Congress.

Banned Books Week Kits are available to bookstores through ALA for $55. For the kits to arrive by September 24, they must be ordered by Thursday, September 16. Orders may be placed by calling (800) 545-2433, ext. 4220.

To help booksellers prepare for Banned Books Week, ABFFE has put together a two-page "Banned Books Week Campaign Plan" flier, which suggests several steps to help promote the weeklong celebration. It includes a form for ordering ABFFE's FREADOM and Harry Potter products, which are available through the ABFFE store at The flier can be downloaded by clicking here, or to request a copy, call (212) 587-4025 or send an e-mail to [email protected].

The main feature of ABFFE's "Banned Books Week Campaign Plan" is the 26-minute documentary about the Tattered Cover Book Store's successful fight against a search warrant for customer records, Reading Your Rights. The short film has been widely praised for its evenhanded treatment of the issue of reader privacy, and ABFFE Executive Director Chris Finan noted that booksellers would find it easy to create an hour-long program using the documentary as the centerpiece. Librarians, attorneys, or law professors can be invited to provide comments about the documentary and to answer questions. Reading Your Rights may be ordered from ABFFE for $35 using either the ABFFE Web store or the order form included in the flier.

Booksellers are also being encouraged to use the Book Sense Top Ten Banned Books as selected by independent booksellers as the centerpiece for Banned Books displays. Pads were sent to stores with Book Sense in the August Red Box. To download a copy of the flier, click here.

In addition, in support of the Banned Books Week, Random House Children's Books has reintroduced its First Amendment First Aid Kit, a comprehensive resource guide for teachers, librarians, and booksellers to assist in the fight against censorship. Originally created 10 years ago, the teaching tool has been newly expanded to address the current needs of booksellers and educators across the nation and thousands of kits will be distributed free to various retail and educational channels this fall.

The First Amendment First Aid Kit features an in-depth brochure, which includes strategies specifically designed to meet the individual needs of booksellers, librarians, and teachers; a glossary of important terms regarding censorship issues; a discussion guide for book groups and classrooms; salient passages from the First Amendment; interviews with well-known authors whose books are frequently challenged; and quantities of bookmarks, posters, pins, and promotional leaflets. The kits are being distributed free to librarians and teachers at annual educational conferences for the National Council of Teachers of English and ALA, at fall educator nights at retail outlets, and through educational distributors. The contents of the brochure are available to the public online at