Banned Book Week 2022


Priyanka Lucey

Last month, Banned Book Week, a national event celebrating literary freedom, was celebrated in schools, libraries, and bookstores across the nation. Created in 1982 in response to a dramatic surge in challenges against books, the event aims to promote censored and controversial literature. This year, the theme was “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us,” and it lasted from September 18-24. Each day, various unique events were hosted, from discussions with young readers and authors to free readings of banned books in some major urban centers. 

One of the main goals of the Banned Book Week Coalition is to protect diversity and inclusion in literature and encourage people to process what they read critically. To promote the most banned books of the past year, the Banned Book Week Coalition shared a report published by the American Literature Association detailing the top ten most challenged books. The list includes titles like The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe, and Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez. Almost all the books included in the list dealt with issues surrounding racism, gender identity/sexuality, and homophobia. 

 In recent years many politicians have begun to target books they claim are pushing a radical agenda on children. During the 2021-22 school year, over 2,500 book bans were enacted in 32 different states, affecting over 5,000 schools and 4 million students, according to a recent report by PEN America. Books that involve LGBTQ+ characters and people of color are scrutinized at much higher rates than those that aren’t. “The book banning that is happening right now is not about the books,” says Julie Stivers, a middle school librarian from North Carolina, a state that has been particularly affected by book bans. “It is about discriminating and othering marginalized communities.”  The censorship of books with diverse characters hurts the LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC communities disproportionately by decreasing young readers’ access to diverse books and characters that reflect their backgrounds.