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Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to read

The 41st Banned Books Week begins today. Booksellers, librarians and teachers come together for this national event to encourage people to recognize or read banned books and learn about the history of book bans throughout the United States.

Banned Books Week dates back to 1982, originally created to address an increase in books banned from public institutions such as schools and libraries. The campaign is typically held during the last week of September and aims to bring together national support for free access to and expression of ideas and information.

According to the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom, there was a record-breaking 2,571 unique titles challenged in public and school libraries last year — most of which were “by or about LGBTQIA+ persons and Black, Indigenous, and people of color.”

Attempts to ban books are largely motivated by a desire for children to only have access to “age appropriate” materials — though the perception of what exactly that means varies widely — at school and public libraries, while others believe that book bans limit personal freedoms and censor marginalized groups. Despite political uproar, surveys show that most parents do not think that scrutiny of library materials should be a priority.

This month, the EveryLibrary Institute and Book Riot came together to survey hundreds of guardians with children under 18 on the subject of banned books.

Highlights from the survey results include, “64% of parents agree or somewhat agree that ‘banning books is a waste of time’ … 74% agree or somewhat agree that book bans infringe on their right to make decisions for their children.”

Last year, the ALA conducted a national survey that yielded similar results, where 71% of respondents opposed attempts to remove books from public libraries, and 79% of respondents think libraries adequately represent a range of viewpoints in their available books.

This year’s Banned Books Week’s theme is “Let Freedom Read,” a theme that aligns with the common goal of public libraries to provide open and equal access to information and resources for all patrons.

Local libraries and booksellers are similarly aiming to bring attention to this nationwide trend.

The Kingwood Public Library has an informational bulletin board alongside a selection of banned books.

Beginning Oct. 19, the Pierpont Centre Books-A-Million will have a banned books display featuring books like “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck, “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, “Animal Farm” by George Orwell, and more.

The University Town Centre Barnes & Noble currently has a similar display set up with a rotating selection of books that have faced suppression in some manner, including “Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov and “1984” by George Orwell. Amie Zinn, who is the Barnes & Noble manager, expressed her personal thoughts on Banned Books Week, recommending that all banned books are worth reading and analyzing.

“Every single one of them. Whatever is banned, I think people should read more than even a book that isn’t banned,” said Zinn. “I think [Banned Books Week] highlights the culture of reading, and highlights writing that can provoke thoughts.”

For more information on book bans and challenged book data, visit