Don’t Take the Freedom to Read for Granted

September 22, 2015

Challenges by Initiator, 2014: Who challenges books?

In the marketplace of ideas, librarians believe we should have as much opportunity to choose what to read as we have to consume goods and services essential to sustaining lives.

Banned Books Week, September 27–October 3, celebrates the idea that the freedom to read and access ideas can transform lives, but when books are banned, readers are blocked from seeing all viewpoints and perspectives.

Because so many books that include racial issues and diverse characters are challenged, it is particularly important that we create public awareness of the library mission to serve all people.

I. W. Gregorio
I. W. Gregorio

“The numbers don’t lie—diverse books face a disproportionate number of challenges. But even more insidious is the ‘soft censorship’ that nonmajority narratives face at the hand of gatekeepers who assume that kids want to read only about characters who look and act like themselves,” says I. W. Gregorio, author of None of the Above, and vice president of development for We Need Diverse Books.

“I thank my stars for the teachers, librarians, and booksellers who gave me books that opened up my world and my heart, introducing me to socioeconomic books, cultures, and religions I had never known, and allowing me to be friends with LGBTQIA and disabled characters that have become friends for life. Reading without limits is truly the best way to engender empathy and understanding.”

First observed in 1982, Banned Books Week reminds Americans not to take the freedom to read for granted. During Banned Books Week, thousands of libraries and bookstores will focus on the harms of censorship and celebrate the right to choose reading materials without restriction.

Visit the official Banned Books Week site for more information.


The Mzansi Youth Choir of Soweto performs at the opening session of the IFLA World Library and Information Congress in Cape Town. Photo: George M. Eberhart

Strong Libraries, Heritage, and Crises: IFLA in Africa

The World Library and Information Congress in Cape Town