Banned Books Week Features First Amendment Rights

By: Jennifer Hong
Staff Writer
Published: Sep 27, 2021

Banned Books Week is an annual awareness campaign that celebrates the freedom to read.

The Banned Books Week campaign runs from Sept. 25 to Oct. 2 and draws attention to challenged books, and highlights persecuted individuals.

It accentuates the importance of protecting the accessibility of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to anyone who may wish to read them. In addition, it protects the requirement to keep material publicly attainable so that people can draw their own conclusions and opinions.

This campaign was founded in 1982 by prominent First Amendment and library activist Judith Krug. In addition, it was 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. It is held during the last week of September, and has been since 1982.

The purpose of this event is to inform people of the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature, and to bring attention to the threat that exists when restrictions are imposed on the availability of knowledge in a free society.

This effort comes complete with posters, buttons, and bookmarks to celebrate the event. Schools generally celebrate banned and challenged books during this week. They often create displays and programs around the awareness campaign.

Some retailers create window displays, while others go further, inviting authors of banned and challenged materials to come speak at their stores, as well as funding annual essay contests about freedom of speech.