Saturday, October 1, 2011

Banned Books Week 2011: What can you do?

Today is the last day of Banned Books Week, but that doesn't mean you can't fight the practice of book challenges/banning all year round.  Here are some action ideas from the ALA:

If you read or hear about a challenge at your school or public library, support your librarian and free and open access to library materials. The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom estimates they learn of only 20 to 25 percent of book challenges. Let us know if there is a challenge in your community. Find out what the policy is for reviewing challenged materials at your school or public library. Join the Intellectual Freedom Action News (IFACTION) e-list.

Go to school board meetings. Volunteer to help your local school or public library create an event that discusses the freedom to read and helps educate about censorship—maybe a First Amendment film festival, a readout, a panel discussion, an author reading or a poster contest for children illustrating the concept of free speech.

Write letters to the editor, your public library director and your local school principal supporting the freedom to read. Talk to your neighbors and friends about why everyone should be allowed to choose for themselves and their families what they read. Encourage your governor, city council and/or mayor to proclaim "Banned Books Week - Celebrating the Freedom to Read" in your state or community. See our sample letter to the editor for ideas.

Check out or re-read a favorite banned book. Encourage your book group to read and discuss one of the books. Give one of your favorite books as a gift.

Join the Freedom to Read Foundation. The Foundation is dedicated to the legal and financial defense of intellectual freedom, especially in libraries. You can also support the cause by buying Banned Books Week posters, buttons and T-shirts online.

My personal suggestion, which kind of expands on 'Exercise Your Rights' above, is to investigate the book you are reading and if you find that it has been challenged (or even banned), mention it in your review or, if you don't review books, tell people about it.  I think this is especially important when it comes to the horror genre because horror books have a high potential for challenges due to their often graphic/violent content.  Spreading awareness is the best way to draw attention to a societal problem.

Thank you for joining me this week for Banned Books Week!


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