This is the "About" page of the "Banned Books Week" guide.
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Last Updated: Jul 19, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Why are books banned or challenged?

Books can be challenged for a number of reasons. They are mostly challenged in schools to protect children from something 'inappropriate". The following were the top three reasons cited for challenging materials to the Office of Intellectual Freedom:

  1. "sexually explicit" material
  2. the material contained "offensive language"
  3. the material was "unsuited to any age group"


Who Challenges Books?

Anyone can challenge a book. Different kinds of people and groups of all persuasions have attempted and continue to attept to suppress anything that conflicts iwth their own beliefs throughout history.


About Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week September 27 - October 3, 2015

Banned Books Week launched in 1982 in response to a jump in the number of challenges to books in schools, libraries and bookstores. More than 11.300 books have been challenged since that time.

From the American Library Association's information on banned books:

"The American Library Association promotes the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one's opinions even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular, and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those viewpoints to all who wish to read them"

"Free Access to Libraries for Minors, an interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights (ALA's basic policy concerning access to information) states that, “Librarians and governing bodies should maintain that parents—and only parents—have the right and the responsibility to restrict the access of their children—and only their children—to library resources.” Censorship by librarians of constitutionally protected speech, whether for protection or for any other reason, violates the First Amendment."


Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.

Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week. BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.

The books featured during Banned Books Week have been targets of attempted bannings. Fortunately, while some books were banned or restricted, in a majority of cases the books were not banned, all thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community to retain the books in the library collections. Imagine how many more books might be challenged—and possibly banned or restricted—if librarians, teachers, and booksellers across the country did not use Banned Books Week each year to teach the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature, and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society.

-American Library Association


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