Celebrate Banned Books this week

Kevin Paredes/Photo Editor
“Howl” by Allen Ginsberg and other controversial literature is being celebrated this week as part of the national Banned Books Week. Readers can participate in the event by uploading videos about their favorite books or posting a review to online book community pages.


Banned Books Week, which began this year on Sept. 25 and is typically held during the last week of September, is a call to action for readers to speak out against literary censorship. The annual observance is led by a coalition of organizations that includes the Freedom to Read Foundation, the American Library Association, the National Council of Teachers of English, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and more. Book lovers can participate in this weeklong, nationwide celebration with Pipe Dream’s list of fun Banned Books Week activities.

1. Read a banned book.

The American Library Association website has cataloged a list of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books in the United States every year since 2001. According to the Office for Intellectual Freedom, there were 323 attempts to ban books in 2016. The year’s most challenged book was the award-winning graphic novel “This One Summer,” written and illustrated by cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki. Centered on the summer friendship of two preteen girls, the book has been challenged for its inclusion of LGBTQ characters, depictions of sex and drugs and use of profanity. Other books on the 2016 list include picture book “I Am Jazz,” written by Jessica Herthel and transgender teen Jazz Jennings; John Green’s best-selling young-adult romance “Looking for Alaska”; and Chuck Palahniuk’s raunchy anthology “Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread.” If you have spare time for pleasure reading this week, you might want to venture to the Broome County Public Library or Barnes and Noble’s Vestal location in search of these titles.

2. Write a review of your favorite banned book.

Banned Books Week is a great opportunity to argue in favor of the books that have shaped your life. Goodreads, a site that allows users to rate and review books, is a great platform for speaking out against the censorship of stories that matter to you. Thousands of millennials grew up reading classics like “Bridge to Terabithia,” “The Kite Runner,” “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” and the wildly popular Harry Potter series, all of which have made the Top Ten Most Challenged Books lists in the last decade. Add your voice to others supporting the beloved books.

3. Compete in the Rebel Reader Twitter Tournament.

This American Library Association-sponsored raffle encourages readers to tweet photos, videos, quotes and stories relating to the subject of banned books. Users who post this week with the hashtag #RebelReader will be entered to win a tote full of books, mugs, pencils and other swag. The official rules are posted on the organization’s website, and one winner will be selected every day of the week.

4. Participate in the Stand for the Banned Read-Out.

The American Library Association also encourages readers to post short YouTube videos with the phrase “Stand for the Banned” in the title. Videos should be less than three minutes long and can be on any topic relevant to book censorship. Participants might read aloud from a banned book, review their favorite banned book, talk about how a particular book has changed their life or discuss censorship in general. Once you post your video and submit a link to the American Library Association website, your content could be selected to go on the official Banned Books Week YouTube channel.

5. Seek out cool new places to read.

The BU campus is home to plenty of cozy spots to curl up with a challenged book. The Nature Preserve is full of comfortable logs and hidden benches to use while the weather is still warm. If you want to feel close to nature without feeling the sun, the gazebo by Hillside Community that faces the preserve is another great choice. Other relaxing spots include the Fine Arts Building Memorial Garden, the Fireside Lending library in the Marketplace and the patio outside of Appalachian Collegiate Center.

6. Join the Freedom to Read Foundation.

Students can join the foundation online for just $10. If you become a member, you can receive regular email updates from the organization. Other perks of joining Freedom to Read include directly supporting their efforts to fight censorship in the courts, as well as the chance to vote and run in the organization’s annual board elections.

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