Library News

Banned Books Week

by Community Engagement Librarian | September 14, 2022 at 10:09 AM

September 18th through September 24th is Banned Books Week. Keep reading for more information about banned books and how it can affect your library. 

“Books unite us. Censorship divides us.” 


What is Banned Books Week? 

Banned Books Week is an annual celebration of the freedom to read and the freedom to access information. In 1982, Banned Books Week was launched by the American Library Association (ALA) in response to a sudden surge of book challenges in various schools, bookstores, and libraries. All week long, bookstores, libraries, and schools highlight the importance and value of free and open access to information. Join Acton Memorial Library as we celebrate and support the freedom to seek and express ideas, even those considered unpopular or unorthodox, and highlight the harms of censorship. 


What are Banned Books? 

In the United States, according to the U.S. Constitution, the government cannot ban books. So why is there even a banned books week at all? First, books are typically challenged which can ultimately lead to censorship, or the banning of the item in question. A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A ban is the complete removal of those materials. While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, the books have remained available. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak against censorship and speak up for the freedom to read.


Censorship By the Numbers

First, it is important to define censorship. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, censorship is defined as “the institution, system, or practice of [suppressing or deleting anything considered objectionable]” (2022, Merriam-Webster). 

Check out the graphic from ALA below that highlights who initiates challenges, where the challenges take place, why items are challenged, and what types of materials are usually challenged. 


Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2021

*Click the titles to access them on our catalog to check out or put on hold! 

  1. Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe

    1. Reason: LGBTQIA+ content & sexually explicit 

  2. Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison

    1. Reason: LGBTQIA+ content & sexually explicit 

  3. All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson

    1. Reason: LGBTQIA+ content, profanity, and sexually explicit 

  4. Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez

    1. Reason: Depicitions of abuse & sexually explicit 

  5. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

    1. Reason: Profanity, violence, promoting anti-police message, and indoctrination of social agenda 

  6. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

    1. Reason: Profanity, sexual references, and derogatory term 

  7. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

    1. Reason: Sexually explicit & degrading to women 

  8. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

    1. Reason: Depiction of child sexual abuse & sexually explicit 

  9. This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson

    1. Reason: Providing sexual education & LGBTQIA+ content 

  10. Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin

    1. Reason: LGBTQIA+ content & sexually explicit