Celebrate the freedom to read with the 2022 observance of Banned Book Week from Sept. 18-24. This year’s theme is “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.”
Banned Book Week is a national event hosted by a coalition of publishers, teachers, booksellers, journalists, librarians and others who support the freedom “to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular” (bannedbookweek.org).
Banned and challenged books are a hot topic in the literary world right now. According to the American Library Association, in 2021, there were 729 challenges to materials in libraries, schools and universities which targeted 1,597 different books. These numbers are up more than 570 challenges and more than 1,320 books from the previous year.
A “challenge” to a book is an attempt to remove or restrict access to that item, whether in a library or school or elsewhere. A “ban” is when an item has been removed from the public’s access.
Since 1982, Banned Book Week has been held to “highlight the value of free and open access to information” by providing information about the harms of censorship and the value of diversity (of ideas, authors, viewpoints, etc.) in a library collection.
Want to get in on the conversation? The Banned Book Week Coalition will be hosting multiple social media events that discuss relevant issues. Starting on Thursday, Sept. 23, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., bestselling comics creator and former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Gene Luen Yang, author of “American Born Chinese,”“Dragon Hoops,” and “Shang-Chi,” will be joined by educator Alexis Huddleston and parent Stephani Bercu for a conversation about the censorship of young people’s literature in Leander, Texas and beyond. This will be a live Facebook event on the Banned Book Week’s Facebook page.
Another event is an open forum to “Ask Jason Reynolds Anything* (*About Banned Books),” happening on Sept. 28 from 1-2 p.m., also taking place live on Facebook. Jason Reynolds is a New York Times bestselling author of several books who has won multiple awards including a Newbery Honor, a Printz Honor, an NAACP Image Award, Coretta Scott King Award honors, the Carnegie Medal, and others. Reynolds is the current National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature for the Library of Congress and Banned Book Week’s Honorary Chair for 2022. For more information on these events, visit bannedbooksweek.org and look for “Don’t Miss These Banned Book Week Coalition Events” in the “Latest News.”
In the meantime, be sure to visit the Cheboygan Area Public Library and check out a banned book or two and celebrate the freedom to read!.
Other upcoming events at the Cheboygan Area Public Library include a fun family Magic Show & More event with Mr. Wizard and Daisy the Unicorn on Sept. 14 at 6 p.m. Also, Eric Hemenway, director of repatriation, archives and records for the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians, will be presenting the History of Indian Boarding Schools on Sept. 22 at 6 p.m. (which has been rescheduled from Sept. 15).
— Emily Clare is program director of the Cheboygan Area Public Library.