Keep the Lights On: Banned Books Week 2019

Since 1982, librarians, booksellers, publishers, authors, and booklovers across the country take a week every September to celebrate banned books and discourage censorship.  The event was started due to an increase in banned and challenged books in the early 1980s.  Some may be wondering what a banned book is.  A banned book is simply any book that has been successfully banned from an institution (usually a school).  Challenged books are those that have been nominated to be banned, although that does not necessarily mean the challenge was successful. 

The primary purpose of Banned Books Week is to raise awareness of censorship.  We live in a country where we have the right to freedom of speech, meaning we can share our ideas and opinions without fear of being imprisoned for those beliefs.  However, there is a comprise associated with that right.  It can be so easy to feel that our opinions are the best ones, and therefore, freedom of speech should only be given to those who agree with us (which is such a contradictory feeling).  This week gives us a chance to appreciate our differences and keep an open mind as we read incredible literature with opinions that may differ from our own.

Let us be clear, we are not saying you should agree with everything you read.  However, being open to the fact that others do not think the same as we do, and being willing to have them teach us just as we want to enlighten them can help each of us as we progress to become better, more understanding people.

This year’s theme is “Censorship leaves us in the dark.  Keep the light on!”  This theme clearly represents what we have mentioned in this week’s post.  Allowing others the same freedom of speech we enjoy can enlighten our minds and make clearer our understanding of the world around us.  Everyone deserves an opportunity to share their opinion.  That is a principle which our nation was built on.

There are many ways to celebrate Banned Books Week, the most obvious being to read a banned book.  You can find lists all over the internet if you just look up Banned Books List on either Google or another preferred search engine.  Another easy thing to do would be to post something on social media, whether it be a picture or a simple tweet, and start up a conversation there.  If you are in a position to put on an event, such as a book club, a book sale, or an author meet up, do so!  If you are unable to put on or attend such an event, you could take a moment to write a letter to the author of a banned book and discover more in depth their thoughts on the subject matter of their books, as well as their feelings on banned books. 

A great resource in approaching Banned Books Week is to go to their official website,, which includes examples of ways to celebrate, as well as lists of banned books, including the 11 most banned books of 2018.