Find your freedom to read

Published Sep. 25, 2020
Updated Oct. 18, 2021

"Two Boys Kissing" book open to title page Banned Books Week: Sept. 27-Oct. 3

It’s that time of year again, when we celebrate the power of books and our right to read them. Banned Books Week is both a joyous celebration and a stark reminder of the dangers of censorship.

Banned Books Week began in the 1980s, a time of increased challenges to books, as a way to promote and protect intellectual freedom.

“When we ban things, it’s just this gut reaction to suppress things that don’t reflect our own reality,” says ASU librarian Ashley Gohr

More than 350 challenges were made last year to library, school and university materials. 

The top 10 most challenged books of 2019, as recorded by the American Library Association (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom, included “I Am Jazz” by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood, the “Harry Potter” series by J.K. Rowling, and “George” by Alex Gino.

The impulse to censor, Gohr said, is a direct response to the inherent power ideas hold and the strength of books to spread them. 

“Books are thought of as dangerous, and they are! They contain ideas and stories that can change minds and lives.”

This year, Banned Books Week, an official ALA event, encourages us to find our freedom to read and to appreciate books for what they are: portals to discovery. 

Watch and share these #BannedBooksWeek videos:

Why ban a book?

Why was your favorite book banned?