Every year, the American Library Association (ALA) and the Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) track the number of bans and challenges to books (as well as other materials and programs) throughout the country and showcase that data in an annual Banned Books Week. Sadly, this number has been trending upward in the last few years, with a truly alarming spike this past year. In coordination with this nationally recognized week, we are having our own Banned Books Reading Challenge to bring attention to the importance of protecting ourselves from censorship and allowing every person autonomy in choosing their own reading materials. Why do we care? Because, as the OIF says, "The freedom to read is essential to our democracy". Restricting access to what the general public can read or learn is not possible in a healthy democracy. If you want to get involved to fight against censorship, check out Unite Against Book Bans, which provides resources and can connect you with folks in your community already doing some of this work.
The challenge will be available through the Beanstack app or website. Once you log in, you’ll be able to join the new challenge beginning September 18 and it runs through October 7. This reading challenge celebrates the freedom to read and spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. All of the books featured on the accompanying reading list have been targeted for removal or restriction in various libraries. Read any book on this list, or a book of your own choosing that has been targeted somewhere in the US, and win a Let Freedom Read wristband. Earn a bonus badge by attending our Banned Book Club or Community Discussion. When you complete the Banned Books Reading Challenge, you will receive a Let Freedom Read bracelet, and will be entered into a raffle to win a copy of The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison or All Boys Aren't Blue by George M. Johnson. Each bonus badge completed will give you another entry into the raffle.
Top 13 Book Challenges in 2022
The ALA normally calculates the top 10 titles every year, but with ties to the number of challenges/bans, it brings the total to 13 in 2022. This is the last full year for which data is known.