Banned Books Week gives everyone a chance to celebrate their story. The courageous students, teachers, librarians, and authors who stand up for challenged ideas remind us that intellectual freedom is our birthright. By creating an event for your community, posting online about the freedom to read, or even just reading a banned book, each person has an opportunity to further that right.
Charles Brownstein, chair of the Banned Books Week Coalition (BBWC) committee
Banned Books Week 2018, the annual celebration of the freedom to read, will be held September 23–29. The 2018 theme, “Banning Books Silences Stories,” is a reminder that everyone needs to speak out against censorship.
Tune in to this ReadWriteThink.org podcast episode to hear about some of the most frequently challenged books for teens, along with YA authors’ perspectives on the experience of being censored. Books featured in this episode include The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier (Knopf, 1974), The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (MTV Books, 1999), and The Sledding Hill by Chris Crutcher (Greenwillow, 2005).
The English Journal article “Banned Books: A Study of Censorship” and “Celebrate Democracy! Teach about Censorship” include details on extended units on censorship. You’ll find a range of materials for exploring censorship in the classroom with the ReadWriteThink.org lesson plan “Censorship in the Classroom: Understanding Controversial Issues.”
Educators can share “What Do I Do Now? Where to Turn When You Face a Censor,” from the NCTE book Preserving Intellectual Freedom: Fighting Censorship in Our Schools. The chapter provides scenarios and the related resources that teachers from kindergarten through college can use as the basis for discussion and problem-solving role-play. Teachers might then use the detailed instructions in the SLATE Rationales for Teaching Challenged Books for writing their own rationales.
Be sure to check out this ReadWriteThink.org resource that introduces students to censorship and then invites them to read a challenged book and decide for themselves what should be done with the book at their school.
NCTE, a proud sponsor of Banned Books Week, has been celebrating our right to read since the 1950s. In 1962, NCTE published its seminal intellectual freedom guideline The Students’ Right to Read, that led to today’s active Intellectual Freedom Center. The Students’ Right to Read gives model procedures for responding to challenges, including “Citizen’s Request for Reconsideration of a Work.”