Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and highlighting the value of free and open access to information. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, it also draws national attention to the harms of censorship.
Efforts join 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.
To explore the issues and controversies around book challenges and book banning, check out the links on this page to frequently challenged books lists.
Library staff stand up for the right to read
"The banned book that had the most profound impact on me was Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls, and I'm not just saying that because I work in Oak Park. I read it at a time when I was fascinated by the Spanish Civil War, its underlying issues, and the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. For Whom the Bell Tolls taught me that fiction could be an even more effective tool than nonfiction in conveying deeply-held political beliefs and their complications. I still get choked up (spoiler alert) when I think of the ending with Robert Jordan there on that mountainside, waiting." - Materials Services Librarian Bleue J. Benton
"During most of my middle school/elementary years, I lived abroad in Denmark. During this time period, I only came back home to the United States during the summer to visit my Dad. So I was the kid unfamiliar with many popular U.S. toys and TV shows during that time. But I was gifted A Wrinkle in Time one summer, and I fell in love with it. It helped me feel connected to my U.S. friends. I devoured the rest of the series that summer. I can't wait for the upcoming movie adaptation." - Arts & Culture Librarian Margita Lidaka
"When The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 was published, it won a slew of awards including Best Book for Young Adults, Newbery Honor Book, and the Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book. It is a laugh out loud book, with wonderfully written characters. It’s a book I have recommended many times. It’s no wonder that it has been challenged, likely by parents who do not want the true history of the violent oppression of African-Americans to be told to their children. After all the laughter in the book, the story concludes with a vivid and memorable slice of 1963 U.S. history that takes place in Birmingham, Alabama." - Jim Madigan, Deputy Director