By Soncirey Mitchell
By now our community is far too familiar with the words “banned books.” North Idaho’s libraries are battlegrounds where a few attempt to limit the personal freedom of the many by controlling what they can read. Attacks like these are the reason Banned Books Week was founded.
The awareness campaign began in 1982 in response to a slew of bans and challenges leveled against books in stores, libraries and schools. The American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom continues to promote Banned Books Week each year to defend the free exchange of information and ideas in the U.S. Librarians, teachers and the media report banned or challenged books to the organization, which compiles them into a publicly available list to show what ideas are under threat of censure.
This year’s theme is “Let Freedom Read!,” which draws from both Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and the former de facto national anthem, “My Country, ’Tis of Thee.” That dream of freedom remains unachieved and under threat. In unconcealed displays of racism, homophobia and ignorance, most bans suppress books featuring people of color or LGBTQIA+ characters.
Actor and outspoken reading advocate LeVar Burton leads the upcoming Banned Books Week and hosts a discussion on censorship and advocacy Wednesday, Oct. 4 at 5 p.m. A hero to many for his roles on Roots and Star Trek: The Next Generation, Burton inspired an entire generation’s love of reading through his work on the PBS program Reading Rainbow.
Because of advocates like Burton and librarians across the U.S., the number of booklovers continues to grow, united in the belief that everyone has the right to choose what they read.
For more info, visit bannedbooksweek.org and ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/book-ban-data.
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