It’s Banned Books Week, the American Library Association’s annual effort to bring awareness to the book challenges, censorships, and bannings in libraries and schools across the country.
Books are challenged because they are challenging, and occasionally have a tendency to force people to confront ideas they disagree with, ideas they’d like to forget, and even ideas they’d just prefer to ignore. But the open exchange of ideas – even and especially those we disagree with! – is important in any free society like our own, particularly as we start to kick off the next election cycle.
And yes, book challenges do occur on a regular basis, on every level of library, instigated by people from every political, social, and age range you can name, even college-age students: two recent challenges, both involving Allison Bechdel’s award-winning (and recently adapted into a Broadway play) graphic memoir Fun Home, were instigated by students at Duke University and at Crafton Hills College.
We know this is a busy time of year for everyone, but if you get the chance, please embrace and celebrate your freedom to read (and think) whatever you want. Plus, you get the satisfaction of knowing that someone somewhere might be angry about you doing so, and that’s always fun.
For more information, please visit the official site for Banned Books Week, or the American Library Association’s site for the event.