CELEBRATE BANNED BOOKS WEEK

A prelude to readings from banned and challenged classics

Narrator I: Every year in late September we celebrate Banned Books Week, an event that celebrates the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.

Narrator II: The First Amendment freedoms that we so often take for granted—the right to read, explore ideas, and express ourselves freely—are at risk . . .

Narrator I: . . . and that’s why we have Banned Books Week—to celebrate your freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular.

Narrator II: None of us has the right to control or limit another person’s ability to read or access information.

Narrator I: Yet when individuals or groups demand that libraries and schools remove specific books from the shelves, they are doing just that.

Narrator II: The rights and protections of the First Amendment include children as well as adults. While parents have the right—and the responsibility—to guide their own children’s reading, that right does not extend to other people’s children.

Narrator I: Each adult has the right to choose their own reading materials, along with the responsibility to acknowledge and respect the right of others to do the same.

Narrator II: When we speak up to protect the right to read, we not only defend our individual right to free expression, we demonstrate tolerance and respect for opposing points of view.

Narrator I: And when we take action to preserve our precious freedoms, we become participants in the ongoing evolution of our democratic society.

Narrator II: Act now to protect your right to read.

Narrator I: Stay informed. Be aware of what’s happening—that’s best way to fight censorship.  We don’t want to be in a situation like Panem with President Snow.

Narrator II:  When you encounter censorship, be prepared to speak up or let others know, just like Katniss!

Narrator I: You can fight censorship by attending and participating in public hearings, writing letters to public officials, sending a letter or an op-ed article to local news organizations, and forming a coalition to oppose censorship in your community.

Narrator II: You can also fight censorship by seeking assistance from national groups, such as: the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, the First Amendment Center, the Freedom to Read Foundation, the National Coalition Against Censorship, and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Narrator I: And support your local schools and libraries and participate in Banned Books Week!

Narrator II: Harry Potter . . . Captain Underpants . . . Huckleberry Finn . . . To Kill a Mockingbird . . . Junie B. Jones . . . Attempts have been made to remove these books from schools and libraries.

Narrator I: Whatever your favorite book, chances are good that someone has tried to ban it. Every year there are hundreds of attempts to remove books from schools and libraries.  There have been over 11,000 books banned or challenged since 1982!

Narrator II: Thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community the majority of challenged books remain unrestricted in library collections.

Narrator I: Imagine how many more books might be challenged—and possibly banned or restricted—if librarians, teachers, and booksellers across the country did not use Banned Books Week each year to teach the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature, and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society.

Narrator II:  It’s hard to imagine a library not having Charlotte’s Web, Winnie-the-Pooh, Gone with the Wind, The Lord of the Rings, and hundreds of other challenged books on their shelves.

Narrator I:  Celebrate YOUR freedom to read and your right to choose your books during Banned Books Week, September 28th-October 2nd.

Sources:

ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom  http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/oif/index.cfm

Banned Books by Robert P. Doyle, an ALA Publication

The First Amendment Center   http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/

Think for Yourself and Let Others Do the Same: Books Challenged or Banned in 2009-2010 by Robert P. Doyle  http://www.ila.org/pdf/2010banned.pdf