Banned Books Week 2020

As we all know, 2020 has been a dumpster fire. We are essentially a nation on the brink. I was expecting some sort of aggressive, war footing for this year’s annual Banned Books Week. Freedom of thought and expression is vital in times like these. However, we’re getting a relatively bland, kind of dorky theme. That said, don’t let it dissuade you from observing and participating in, this important annual event!

Banned Books Week is an event celebrating the freedom to read. Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores, and libraries. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

Banned Books Week 2020 is from September 27 – October 3. The theme of this year’s event is “Censorship is a dead end. Find your freedom to read!”

By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship. The American Librarian Association Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) compiles lists of challenged books as reported in the media and submitted by librarians and teachers across the country. The Top 10 Challenged Books of 2019 are:

(clicking on the book images will take you to IndieBound, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use these links to purchase a book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.)

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

George by Alex Gino
Reasons: challenged, banned, restricted, and hidden to avoid controversy; for LGBTQIA+ content and a transgender character; because schools and libraries should not “put books in a child’s hand that require discussion”; for sexual references; and for conflicting with a religious viewpoint and “traditional family structure”

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin
Reasons: challenged for LGBTQIA+ content, for “its effect on any young people who would read it,” and for concerns that it was sexually explicit and biased

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG Keller
Reasons: Challenged and vandalized for LGBTQIA+ content and political viewpoints, for concerns that it is “designed to pollute the morals of its readers,” and for not including a content warning

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Sex is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smyth
Reasons: Challenged, banned, and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content; for discussing gender identity and sex education; and for concerns that the title and illustrations were “inappropriate”

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Prince & Knight by Daniel Haack, illustrated by Stevie Lewis
Reasons: Challenged and restricted for featuring a gay marriage and LGBTQIA+ content; for being “a deliberate attempt to indoctrinate young children” with the potential to cause confusion, curiosity, and gender dysphoria; and for conflicting with a religious viewpoint

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
Reasons: Challenged and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content, for a transgender character, and for confronting a topic that is “sensitive, controversial, and politically charged”

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity and for “vulgarity and sexual overtones”

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
Reasons: Challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and for concerns that it goes against “family values/morals”

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
Reasons: Banned and forbidden from discussion for referring to magic and witchcraft, for containing actual curses and spells, and for characters that use “nefarious means” to attain goals

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson illustrated by Henry Cole
Reason: Challenged and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content


You can learn more about this event and the work they do here.

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