Rise to the Challenge: Read a Banned Book

Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association

This year, Banned Books Week runs from September 27 through October 3. As it does each year during this week, the American Library Association will be promoting its lists of books that are commonly banned or challenged in order to encourage readers to stand up for freedom of information and their right to read what they choose.

While some some writers may be aware during the creation process that they’re delving into potentially incendiary subjects, most likely have no idea that their work will one day be challenged by a library or teacher or parent or community. And though it might be flattering to be hotly debated, most writers would probably prefer to be read rather than banned. Banned books get increased attention, but also lose readers.

How would you feel if a book you’d poured your heart and soul into writing suddenly was challenged by a local school board or librarian? If it disappeared mysteriously from your corner bookstore’s shelves because someone complained about its content? What books have you read and enjoyed (or perhaps hated) that have graced a banned-books list at some point? You might be surprised at the titles that have garnered criticism.

Check out the top banned books from 2014, and the books that have been most challenged through the decades. See what already graces your bookshelves, and maybe pick up one or two new ones to read next week. Everyone should have a choice of what books they read; it’s not for someone else to remove that freedom.