Readers from across the United States and around the world are demonstrating their support for free speech by participating in a virtual read-out of banned and challenged books that will culminate during the 30th annual Banned Books Week (Sept. 24-Oct. 1), the only national celebration of the freedom to read. Individuals, libraries and bookstores are uploading videos to YouTube, which will then be featured on the special Banned Books Week Virtual Read-Out channel. Participants are submitting either a reading (up to two minutes) or a description of a local book challenge (up to three minutes). Instructions on how individuals can upload their videos can be found here. Libraries and librarians wishing to participate can follow the instructions posted here.
The authors of challenged books are also participating in the read-out. Videos of frequently censored authors Judy Blume and Lauren Myracle have recently been posted.
Other highly acclaimed and/or frequently challenged authors, including Chris Crutcher, Paolo Bacigalupi, Sarah Dessen, William Joyce, Andrea Davis Pinkney, Jay Asher, Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, also have recorded videos that will be posted in coming days. Check the Banned Books Week YouTube Channel and www.bannedbooksweek.org/videos daily for new videos!
To support an expanded Banned Books Week, the sponsors have launched a redesigned website, www.bannedbooksweek.org. In addition to providing information about the virtual read-out, it includes an interactive map showing locations of recent book challenges and a state-by-state listing of libraries, bookstores and other groups that are participating in Banned Books Week.
One Banned Books Week event is an eBay auction of more 70 pieces by leading artists in the children’s book industry, including Peter Brown, Susan Jeffers, Wendell Minor, Adam Rex and Paul O. Zelinsky. Proceeds from the auction will help support efforts to defend the First Amendment rights of young readers, including the Kids Right to Read Project, which is co-sponsored by the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) and the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC). Items can be located on ABFFE’s eBay page.
To provide additional organizational support for Banned Books Week, the current sponsors—the ALA, ABFFE, the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), the Association of American Publishers (AAP), and the National Association of College Stores (NACS)–recruited several new sponsors this year: NCAC, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF), the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and PEN American Center (PEN). Project Censored has joined the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress as an endorser of Banned Books Week.
Publishers have increased their support as well. A number of AAP member publishers, including Hachette, Penguin, Random House, Scholastic, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster are providing guidance for the observance through an AAP Banned Books Week Publisher Task Force.