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Freedom to read is celebrated during Banned Books Week

September 23, 2022
Photo by Madison Echlin | The State News

It’s the end of Banned Books Week — but what does that mean? Banned Books Week is a partnership between the American Library Association and Amnesty International to bring awareness to commonly banned or challenged books around the world while simultaneously celebrating the freedom to read.

These challenges greatly affect readers and more specifically students, but they also directly affect librarians.

“The banning of books is historical,” gay and lesbian studies special collections librarian Eli Landaverde said. “Right now is even more important because it's not just the books that are under attack, but also librarians are on the spotlight.”

Books that deal with LGBTQ+ topics, as well as ones that speak on race, are very important to read said Landaverde, and they are often the ones targeted the most.

“Banned Books Week is both a reminder of the unifying power of stories and the divisiveness of censorship,” the ALA website said. “(It is) a call to action for readers across the country to push back against censorship attempts in their communities.”

This year, the awareness campaign started on Sept. 18 and will go until Sept. 24 under the slogan: "Books unite us. Censorship divides us."

According to the ALA, 1,597 books were either challenged or removed in 2021, and the majority of those books discussed Black or LGBTQ+ people. This number is a drastic increase from the 273 books that were targeted in 2020.

Of the books that were challenged in 2021, here are the ones the ALA saw targeted the most:

Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe

Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison

All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson

Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

This Book Is Gay by Juno Dawson

Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin

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