Every year, the American Library Association (ALA) tracks requests from parents, library patrons and school board administrators to remove books from schools and libraries. Sometimes, those challenges result in books being banned — that is, removed from shelves or otherwise restricted from circulation. Since 1982, the last week of September has been used as Banned Books Week to celebrate — and read — these challenged books.
Pitt faculty and staff are invited to join Hillman Library for activities, including a banned books read out, a City of Asylum event and a panel discussion on censorship and intellectual freedom.
What books are challenged?
Nationally, Banned Books Week is sponsored by a coalition of organizations dedicated to free expression including the ALA, American Booksellers Association, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of University Presses and others.Since 1990, the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom has maintained a database on challenged materials. Find out more about how to report challenges and censorship to the ALA.
The ALA’s challenged books lists are diverse and feature the most popular authors and critically acclaimed literature in the world. They include winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature; educational materials; fiction for children and young adults; and books that have inspired movies, television shows and Netflix series.
In 2001, J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” edged out John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” and Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” as most challenged for anti-religious messaging, violence and sexually explicit language, respectively.