Saturday marked the start of Banned Books Week, an annual event that celebrates the First Amendment and the freedom to read. For the uninitiated, Banned Books Week is a time when we reflect upon challenges to the First Amendment and triumphs of freedom of expression.
If banned books sound like something from the days of witch hunts, you'd be wrong. The American Library Association's (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom tracks books that have been "challenged," often by a well-meaning parent, to be removed from a public or school library. Books as recent the Gossip Girls series and Twilight have been on "challenged" lists in recent years. Thankfully, most challenges are unsuccessful.
You can learn more about banned books, including some interesting bar graphs that break down who's challenging books and why, on the ALA website.
As the country's foremost champion of the First Amendment, we go big for Banned Books Week! This year, ACLU affiliates across the country, from Arizona to Wisconsin, are celebrating the freedom to read with tons of events, from readings, to book store discounts, to discussions and exhibits of previously banned books. Check out a comprehensive list of ACLU events in your state here. And the ALA lists more events—including online events—on their site.
So celebrate your First Amendment rights this week and sit back, relax, and read a banned book!