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Banned Books Week: What is Banned Books Week?

What is Banned Books Week?

What is book banning?

Book banning, a form of censorship, occurs when private individuals, government officials, or organizations remove books from libraries, school reading lists, or bookstore shelves because they object to their content, ideas, or themes. Those advocating a ban complain typically that the book in question contains graphic violence, expresses disrespect for parents and family, is sexually explicit, exalts evil, lacks literary merit, is unsuitable for a particular age group, or includes offensive language.

The first Banned Books Read Out occurred in New York City on April 1, 1982. The demonstration protested censorship by school and public libraries under pressure from religious groups. 

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read

BANNED BOOKS WEEK 2022: September 18--September 24

Don’t let censors take books out of our hands! Celebrate free expression during Banned Books Week (September 18-24). The theme of this year’s event proclaims "Books Unite Us, Censorship Divides Us”. 

  • SEPT 22, 4-5 pm Meriam Library is hosting a Freedom to Read Open Mic

    • Come read an excerpt of your favorite banned book at the first floor Research Commons (no more than 2 minutes). Free food and refreshments! 
    • Sign up here to participate

  • SEPT 22, 5-6 pm Live-printing with Pedal Press

    • Local art collective, Pedal Press will help you silk-screen print any t-shirt you bring (or a FREE tote bag provided by the Office of Civic Engagement) with the message "I read Banned Books"


Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read.

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.

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. 

Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. Most challenges are unsuccessful and most materials are retained. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read. ¹


Challenged Books

Mapping Censorship

This page will redirect you to a map of censorship drawn from cases documented by ALA and the Kids' Right to Read Project, a collaboration of the National Coalition Against Censorship and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression.

Mapping Censorship” was created by Chris Peterson of the National Coalition Against Censorship and Alita Edelman of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression. The map is now updated by the American Library Association.

ALA recorded 348 challenges in 2010 but estimates that this reflects only 20-25% of actual incidents, as most challenges are never reported.

Link to the Book Bans and Challenges Map, 2007-2011.

Where do challenges take place?

2021 Reasons for Challenges

Banned and Challenged Books in the Meriam Library

Banned and Challenged Books

Meriam Library has many banned and challenged books. Check out the below lists and then search the catalog to see if we have the book in our collection. 

Top 10 Most Challenged Books​ (Breakdown by year from 2020- 1990)

Frequently Challenged Books of the 21st Century

Banned & Challenged Classics

American Classics in the library: The Call of the Wild, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Native Son

Adult Books

Children's and Young Adult Books

Top 10 Banned Books of 2021

Who Initiates Challenges?

Books and Beyond

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