According to bannedbooksweek.org: Banned Books Week was started in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores, and libraries. According to the American Library Association, more than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982. A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials based upon the objections of a person or group. Not just them expressing their opinion, but actively trying to remove material from curriculum and libraries, restricting the access of others and threatening freedom of speech and choice. A banning is the removal of those materials.
Like many of you, I cannot imagine a world in which I would possibly stoop to tell others what they should not read for moral purposes. However, there are many fearful assholes in the world, and those people would and do want to tell others what they can and can't read.
Freedom to Read, we are fortunate enough to be able to lay hands on the majority of these banned books. I donate to them yearly, this year in memory of Gamma as she was one of the readers who shaped my life. The First Amendment guarantees all Americans the right to express our ideas without governmental interference, and to read and listen to the ideas of others. The Freedom to Read Foundation supports the right of libraries to include in their collections and make available any work which they may legally acquire.
The American Library Association is all up in Banned Books Week, of course. As they should be. Librarians are typically badass warriors for the right to read. Next week, from September 25 to October 1, the ALA will be running pieces by authors on its Intellectual Freedom Blog. Be sure to check those out.
As the ALA states, it's not only the librarians, though: it's the entire book community - librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers - who support the freedom to seek and express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.
Personally, I like to read a banned piece every year during Banned Books Week, and next week it'll be Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. I bet a book you loved has been banned or challenged - check out this list of classics, or the top 10 most challenged books of 2015 here.
First, just be aware that there are maniacs who think they should be able to tell you what to read. Go ahead and give them the finger.
Second, consider celebrating next week by reading some banned titles...because you can, thanks to advocates for freedom to read and those like us who insist on that freedom.