Banned Books Week took place this year between September 26 and October 2. Given the recent increased attention given to book challenges across the country – many highlighted on ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Blog – the timing of this year’s celebration could not have been better. Here’s a look at some Banned Books Week coverage and commentary from Twitter.
NPR offered an overview of 2020’s most frequently challenged books that also discussed recent trends in challenges. OIF’s own Deborah Caldwell-Stone is featured in the article, highlighting the increase in race and diversity-based challenges.
Learning for Justice, an organization founded by the Southern Poverty Law Center that advocates for racial justice in the South, published a reminder that celebrating Banned Books Week goes hand in hand with advocating for LGBTQ+ rights. Although the original article was published in 2019, this year’s reminder was still incredibly timely.
Kidlit artist and illustrator Nadia Fisher celebrated by sharing a powerful piece of her art and dedicating it to students who stood up against a recent book ban in Pennsylvania. Fisher’s work highlights the importance of diverse stories for kids and teens.
A variety of authors offered their commentary as well.
Angie Thomas, author of the beloved and often challenged YA book The Hate U Give, quipped that she was celebrating Banned Books Week because her work’s frequent bans have helped her sell more books.
Cassandra Clare, another YA superstar, shared a quote from her own work highlighting the power of “dangerous” books alongside an image of this year’s official Banned Books Week artwork.
Children’s author and LGBTQ rights advocate Phil Bildner took on a more serious tone, expressing sadness that book bans prevent young readers from having access to his work.
Intellectual freedom advocates and other thought leaders shared their own commentary as well. Speaker and writer Sarah McLaughlin highlighted a quote from Kurt Vonnegut that remains appropriate today, nearly fifty years after the book ban he spoke of.
Blogger Genevieve Padalecki also commented on how much readers can learn from literature that makes them uncomfortable.
Despite the uptick in recent news about book challenges and bans, it is refreshing to see so much positive commentary on the danger of suppressing intellectual freedom and the importance of Banned Books Week. Let’s keep this coverage going throughout the year.
Gretchen Kaser Corsillo (she/her) is the Director of Rutherford (NJ) Public Library and has worked in public libraries in a variety of capacities since 2003. In 2013, she received her Master’s of Library & Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh. She also holds a B.A. in Literature with a concentration in Creative Writing and a minor in Political Science from Ramapo College. Prior to working as a professional librarian, Gretchen worked in the marketing and legal fields; the latter, combined with her interest in writing, has made her a strong advocate for intellectual freedom.