“Banning books gives us silence when we need speech. It closes our ears when we need to listen. It makes us blind when we need sight.”
― Stephen Chbosky
“Books unite us. Censorship divides us,” is the theme of Banned Books Week this year, marking the 40th year it’s been observed. Recently, there has been a very vocal and divisive movement to censor books; specifically books that are authored by or feature characters from marginalized communities, notably BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities. (You can find out more from the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom and the recent, in-depth PEN America study). There are a great variety of readers in the world, and an ever expanding variety of books from which to choose. Not every book is for every person, but individuals and their families should have the freedom to choose which books are right for them. No one individual has the right to bar others from reading books with which that individual finds fault. That is censorship. The current efforts to ban books comes from an ideological viewpoint which seeks to silence all other viewpoints. The creators of the books being challenged may be, intentionally or not, advancing an ideology, but they are inviting readers to consider a particular point of view. They are not forcing their ideas on anyone like the censors do. It is so important for readers of all ages to read about people who have different experiences. Reading fosters empathy and understanding, builds bridges between people, and unites communities. Being exposed to opinions that either align with or differ from our own helps us to understand each other, even when we disagree. If you’re not sure which book to choose, our librarians are here to help you find the book you’re looking for. And if you want to see what all the hullabaloo is about, or if you want to support authors whose books have been challenged, here are some “banned books” for you to check out.