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Banned Books Week 2016: Banned & Challenged Books 101

A guide to links and Banned Books Week resources on the web and home to the world famous UST Banned Book Trivia contest!

The History (and Present) of Banning Books in America

"In those early days, Banned Books Week consisted almost entirely of libraries and bookstores hanging posters and displaying banned books. “Those displays were enormously effective communication tools,” says Finan, “because people would wander over and find out that the books they love had been challenged. Suddenly they understood that censorship isn’t just about fringe literature.”

Over 30 Years of Celebration

In honor of the 30th anniversary of Banned Books Week, ALA created a timeline of notable books banned/challenged since the inception of Banned Books Week. Click on the picture below to see it:

What's the difference between banning or challenging a book?

According to the American Libraries Association website

"A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group.  A banning is the removal of those materials.  Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others."

LInks to Organizations

Why Celebrate Banned Books Week?


The American Library Association defines Banned Books Week as "the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular.....BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them."

Free Speech

"We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasent facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people."      -John Kennedy


Lists of Banned Books

Find lists of books that have been most frequently challenged or banned here: 

Top 10 by Year

Who Challenges Books?

Books are often challenged or banned due to material that an individual or an organization deems to be offensive, vulgar, racist, or goes against social norms. 

According to the Office of Intellectual Freedom the top three reasons given for challenging materials: 

1.the material was considered to be "sexually explicit"
2.the material contained "offensive language"
3.the materials was "unsuited to any age group"