Banned Books Week is an annual celebration of the freedom to read. Specifically, it is a week to share our passion for books that have been challenged or even banned from schools, libraries, and even entire countries because someone didn't want them to be read. To say that dictating the availability of books to any age based on one person's moral or social reservations is selfish is an understatement. So how can you help celebrate Banned Books Week? The easiest way is to read. If you already own one of the hundreds of challenged books in print today, you're ahead of the pack. Otherwise, go to your local library, bookstore, or digital distributor of choice and pick up a book that's been challenged or banned. Share your thoughts with your friends, your coworkers, your students, your family, or shout them out on social media.
The next step up is still about spreading the word. Banned Books Week has two digital ways to participate to raise awareness for the event. The first is a brand new event they're calling the Banned Books Week Twitter Party. On Monday, 23 September from 10AM to 12PM EST and Wednesday, 25 September from 12PM to 2PM EST, get on Twitter and write about Banned Books Week with the hashtag #BannedBooksWeek. Write about your favorite challenged or banned book. Write about how important the freedom to read is. Or just write how you're celebrating Banned Books Week. The obvious goal is to get Banned Books Week trending on Twitter so more people are made aware of this wonderful event.
The second digital option is even more personal. You can participate in the Banned Books Week Virtual Read-Out. Basically, you shoot a short video, three minutes or less, talking about a banned or challenged book. You can intro the book (where and why it was banned and why you feel it's important) and then read your favorite passage. You can also talk in more general terms about your favorite banned or challenged book, explaining what it means to you and how you would feel if someone prevented you from reading it. You upload the video to YouTube then fill out this form to be included on the Banned Books Week page as part of their 2013 celebration.
There are more things you can do to participate. You can join in on a real world Banned Books Week event at your local library, bookstore, or school. If you work fast, you could even arrange your own party or event to celebrate.
The Banned Books Week effort doesn't have to stop on 28 September. Preserving the freedom to read is a year-round pursuit. Keep your eyes open for challenges to materials in your community. Report challenged books to the American Library Association using this confidential form. That's how all those wonderful Most Challenged lists are created each year. Keep up with the latest news with organizations like the ALA and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
Consider joining or donating to any organization that supports libraries and schools that have to fight back against challenges, like the CBLDF or the Freedom to Read Foundation, so they can continue to do great work. Banned Books Week has a lot of sponsors that can use your support.
This week at Sketchy Details is dedicated to Banned Books Week, the freedom to read, and the freedom to access media. We'll be discussing books, comics, manga, and more that have been challenged, censored, or banned. Even Slipstream will be focused on Banned Books Week.
How will you be celebrating Banned Books Week? Let me know in the comments below.