Temperatures and maple leaves are falling. Inflatable zombies, vampires, and witches glow on suburban lawns. And at the store, candy corn, peanut butter pumpkins, and Halloween masks are being pushed out by candy canes, marshmallow Santas, and artificial Christmas trees.
It must be the end of September.
And that means it’s time for Banned Book Week 2020.
Running from Sept. 27-Oct. 3, Banned Book Week is a celebration of the freedom to read and, this year at least, a call to stand up like never before to speak out against censorship. It’s one of the best weeks of the year.
When I was a little kid, I had the impression that book banning was something that happened somewhere else, at some point in the past. Books were my favorite thing (well, books and dinosaurs, but still), and I couldn’t fathom that the people of the great country I lived in would allow such a thing to happen.
I learned fast, though, that censorship – while an intellectually prehistoric idea – wasn’t buried deep in the ground like so many T-Rex fossils. It was and remains alive and kicking. As we stand at the edge of one of the most important elections in U.S. history, it’s as strong as it’s ever been. Poised to become even stronger under the proper conditions.
The American Library Association put together some fantastic infographics about the 10 most banned books of 2019 (look for at least one common phobia that runs through most of the titles), as well as a breakdown of how censorship attempts played out last year. I’m going to let those speak for themselves, as they do a far better job than I could of explaining it all. Then I’ll close with one of the most powerful pieces of anti-censorship art ever created, drawn by the great comic book artist Frank Miller.
I hope you take some time to seek out banned books to read, especially if the book challenges your perspective on a topic. Book bans aren’t a one-sided thing, and everyone benefits from tackling a viewpoint that runs contrary to theirs.
Happy Banned Book Week 2020!