Banned Books Week

BookThis years Banned Books Week starts Sunday 20 September 2015. It has been held annually since 1982, during the last full week in September And highlights the freedom to read, draws attention to banned and challenged books, and highlights persecuted individuals. It also stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them” and the requirement to keep material publicly available so that people can develop their own conclusions and opinions. Banned Books Week was founded in 1982 by prominent First Amendment and library activist Judith Krug. It is sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA), the American Booksellers Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE), American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of American Publishers, National Association of College Stores, and endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

Banned Books Week encourages readers to examine challenged literary works, and promotes intellectual freedom in libraries, schools, and bookstores. Its goal is “to teach the importance of our rights and the power of literature, and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society. Many educational facilities also celebrate banned and challenged books during this week, often creating displays and programs around the awareness campaign. Additionally, various booksellers sponsor activities and events in support of Banned Books Week. Such as creating window displays, and inviting authors of banned and challenged materials to come speak at their stores, as well as funding annual essay contests about freedom of speech.

Amnesty International also celebrates Banned Books Week by highlighting individuals who have been persecuted because of the writings that they produce, circulate or read. And documents cases annually which show individuals who have been reportedly killed, incarcerated, or otherwise harassed by national authorities around the world, because of their writings. Amnesty International also urges people to “take action” by contacting authorities regarding human rights violations and also provide updates to cases from previous years, giving a history and current status of people who have been allegedly persecuted for their writings in Azerbaijan, China, Cuba, Egypt, Gambia, Iran, Myanmar, Russia, and Sri Lanka. The event has also been praised for celebrating the freedom provided by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The international event held by Amnesty International has also been praised for reminding people about the price that some people pay for expressing controversial views.

However A number of books on the list have been simply challenged (primarily by parents for violence, language, sexuality, or age-appropriateness), rather than banned outright and removed. Many have alleged that the censorship being protested in the event does not exist, and that books are not banned in the United States, Although there are hundreds of documented attempts to suppress access to information that take place each year across the U.S., where libraries are asked to restrict access for others, and that does indeed reflect an attempt at censorship.” Banned Books Weeks highlights that the bulk of these books are challenged by parents for being age-inappropriate for children rather than banned outright. The American Christian right organization, Focus on the Family regularly challenges Banned Books Week, claiming that books are not really banned, and that libraries’ policies are anti-family as does The anti-gay group Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays.

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