It is thanks to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents and students that most challenges are unsuccessful and reading materials like Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird and the Harry Potter series remain available.
The most challenged and/or restricted reading materials have been books for children. However, challenges are not simply an expression of a point of view; on the contrary, they are an attempt to remove materials from public use, thereby restricting the access of others. Even if the motivation to ban or challenge a book is well intentioned, the outcome is detrimental. Censorship denies our freedom as individuals to choose and think for ourselves. For children, decisions about what books to read should be made by the people who know them best, like a parent,or other adult who is responsible for the upbringing of the child.
In support of the right to choose books freely for ourselves, the ALA and the Lanpher Memorial Library are sponsoring Banned Books Week, September 24-October 2 2011, an annual celebration of our right to access books without censorship. This year's observance commemorates the most basic freedom in a democratic society--the freedom to read freely--and encourages us not to take this freedom for granted.
Since its inception in 1982, Banned Books Week has reminded us that while not every book is intended for every reader, each of us has the right to decide for ourselves what to read, listen to or view. The Lanpher Library and thousands of libraries and bookstores across the country will celebrate the freedom to read by participating in special events, exhibits that showcase books that have been banned, or threatened. The Lanpher Library has a display featuring some of the challenged titles from 2009-2011 and any library patron who reads a book that has ever been banned, or challenged now through October 24th, can enter to win a "I'm With The Banned" lanyard.
Because libraries provide free access to a world of information, they bring opportunity to all people. Now, more than ever, celebrate the freedom to read...read an old favorite, or a new banned book this week.